CPUC Extends Diablo Canyon Operations Until 2030
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a proposal on December 14, 2023 to extend the operation of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant for five years through 2030. The plant's two reactor units are extended from 2024 to 2029 and from 2025 to 2030. The decision reverses a 2016 agreement to close the plant in 2025.
The 2,250 MW Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, is the largest power source in California and provides 8.6% of the state’s electricity, including approximately 17% of its zero-emissions electricity.
CPUC officials state that the extension is intended to improve the reliability of California’s energy grid in support of California’s transition to renewable energy. The costs of keeping Diablo Canyon open are unknown but expected to be more than $6 billion.
Opponents of the extension argue that the plant is vulnerable to earthquakes and that there is no place to dispose of radioactive nuclear waste permanently.
In 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law SB 846, which extends the life of the 2,250 MW Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s two units by five years to 2029 and 2030. In November 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Diablo Canyon $1.1 billion in funding from the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program.
Environmental groups have made a series of legal challenges to the extension of the plant. In August 2023, a California judge rejected a lawsuit from an environmental group to prohibit PG&E from violating a 2016 agreement to close the nuclear power plant by 2025. In October 2023, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission rejected a request to shut down a nuclear reactor at the 2,250 MW Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
Pacific Gas & Electric filed its federal relicensing application for Diablo Canyon with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on November 7, 2023. The federal license renewal would authorize continued operation for up to 20 years.