Gavin Newsom, the Democrat Governor of California, has officially proposed a new extension of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant once it was slated to be shut down entirely by 2025.
The state legislature of California no has just a scant few weeks to go over this new proposal. The current session is slated to end at the end of this month, which means that unless a special session is called to order next month, the lawmakers must make a decision soon.
This proposal from the governor utilizes a possible forgivable loan for PG&E, the company that currently runs the plant, for roughly an amount of $1.5 billion and would need state agencies to take action soon in order to allow the reactors to stay in working order and keep up production, as reported by the Associated Press.
A draft of this newly proposed bill was secured on the 11th of August just before a meeting of the California Energy Commission about the power requirements of the state and just how the nuclear power plant could play a part in being able to keep up with the needed power levels. The nuclear plant creates roughly 9% of the power for the state, as reported by the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
The proposal made the argument that the prolonged production for roughly five to ten years longer than 2025 is “critical to ensure statewide energy system reliability and to minimize the emissions of greenhouse gasses while additional renewable energy resources come online, until those new renewable energy resources are adequate to meet demand.”
If the plant is to be kept online, it would need to be relicensed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which can take an extended period of time to do, but this draft bill cuts through some of the red tape and sets up an extension in order to not be held liable to the California Environmental Quality Act. It also seeks to ban any and all new environmental analysis by the Coastal Commission of California.
This draft proposal also lets PG&E be free from going along with state water laws until October 2035 and extends its permit until such time. It will be hit with a “mitigation fee” of roughly $10 per million gallons of ocean water utilized, starting in 2024, but will see a 3% increase each year. It already assumes that it will be forced to pay about $38 million in mitigation fees for 2015 through 2025.
Newsom has been entirely open about his support for keeping the power plant up as concerns for the California energy grid continue to mount. In August of 2020, there was a series of rolling blackouts sparked by extreme temperatures and a power grid that was unable to deal with the increased demand. Newsom has called on PG&E to find ways to stay open, claiming that nuclear energy would be needed as the state tries to make green energy a top priority.
“The governor has been clear for months about the potential need to extend the life of Diablo Canyon,” stated Anthony York, a spokesman for Newsom, to the AP. He highlighted that the governor has spoken out about the need to keep all options available in order to maintain a stable energy grid and that “this proposal reflects the continued need to keep that flexibility.”