Concerns about California’s power grid, especially with the shutdowns Californians have experienced over the past two summers, have California Governor Gavin Newsom thinking twice about shutting down the Diablo Canyon power plant.
“Any large amount of electricity coming from the grid, especially Diablo Canyon, which provides 24/7 electricity to the grid, puts at risk the increase in blackouts,” said Isabelle Boemeke, founder of Save Clean Energy, an organization that seeks to maintain the Diablo Canyon Power. Open plant.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s office has confirmed that it is looking into keeping the power plant open, but it’s not up to the governor to extend a license for Diablo Canyon.
In a statement, Erin Mellon, Governor Newsom’s Director of Communications, said: “The Governor supports [of] keeping all options on the table to ensure we have a reliable network, especially as we head into a summer where Cal ISO expects California to have more demand than supply when type of extreme events that California has experienced over the past two summers. This includes looking at an expansion to Diablo Canyon which continues to be an important resource as we transition to clean energy.”
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford published a report in 2021 weighing in on the benefits of keeping the power plant open and using it more for a desalination and hydrogen plant.
“The state would avoid increasing emissions, carbon emissions, in the short term,” explained Jacopo Buongiorno, professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT and co-author of the report. “Longer term, it would actually save a lot of money because it would reduce the amount of electrical capacity he has to deploy if Diablo Canyon were to shut down.”
President Joe Biden recently announced funding to support his pledge to create a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035.
The US Department of Energy has a $6 billion civilian nuclear appropriation program and Governor Newsom told the LA Times he would seek to tap into those funds.
“The program he refers to does not apply to Diablo Canyon, it only applies to nuclear plants that have operating losses in terms of financial management and Diablo Canyon has no operating losses. right now,” said Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Co-director of the energy program. “That’s not why he’s retiring. He’s retiring because his license will be in place by 2025.”
But the request for federal funding belongs to the plant operator. In this case, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).
“PG&E doesn’t really have any competition because it’s a regulated monopoly,” said Jane Swanson, spokesperson for San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, an organization that has been advocating for the shutdown of the power station. “For two reasons, I would be very, very surprised if that happened. I don’t think Diablo Canyon qualifies. I don’t think the governor has that kind of power.”
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said there is currently no application for an extension of the plant’s license, which is due to expire in 2024 and 2025.
The NRC said PG&E requested a 20-year license extension for the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, but later withdrew the request in 2018.
“The renewal process was initiated in the late 2000s, so some of these replacements had already taken place. For example, the replacement of the steam generator or the reactor pressure vessel were replaced at the time before the shutdown decision,” Prof Buongiorno added.
PG&E has always said it plans to close the plant when its current license expires, but on Friday PG&E spokeswoman Suzanne Hosn said, “The people at PG&E are proud of the role the plant plays Diablo Canyon power station in our state. We are always open to considering all options to ensure the continued delivery of safe, reliable, and clean power to our customers.”
“Closing any existing nuclear power plant at this time is a terrible mistake, not only in terms of reliability but also in terms of climate change, and it would also jeopardize clean energy goals,” Boemeke added.
The NRC also weighed in on any last-minute license extension requests.
“If a factory applies for a renewal with less than five years remaining on its license, it will most likely need to present a legal and technical rationale for applying a ‘timely renewal’ to ensure that there would be sufficient time for a proper request,” the NRC said. and decision,” said Scott Burnell, NRC spokesperson.
In a statement released Friday, Rep. Salud Carbajal, (D) District 24, said, “If Governor Newsom changes course, it is imperative that he includes the same community actors who participated in the decision to withdraw the DCPP. , including PG&E, environmental stakeholders, nuclear safety advocates and labor unions – in any review of this election.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council said the removal of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant could be used as an example for other nuclear plants. On the other hand, Save Clean Energy plans to push for more social media campaigns and rallies at the local level.