May 27, 2023
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Federal rule change could make it easier to keep Diablo Canyon open


A tweak in U.S. Department of Energy rules for receiving some of the proposed $6 billion in funds to give nuclear plants extra running time could help give the Diablo Canyon plant near San Luis Obispo some additional years of power generation.

Bloomberg News has reported that the DOE is “proposing changes requested by California Governor Gavin Newsom” that will enable Diablo Canyon to successfully apply for the federal assistance. The rules tweak, posted the department’s web site, will allow PG&E, the plant’s owner and operator, get a portion of the proposed assistance.  The public comment period for the proposed rules ends June 27.

Newsom has said it is worth looking into keeping the Diablo Canyon plant open, a move that would also extend some 2,600 direct jobs in San Luis Obispo County and North Santa Barbara County. The twin-generator station was expected to begin closing in 2025 when its licenses begin to expire. But the loss of hydropower due to California’s extended drought and the fact that Diablo Canyon can provide up to 10% of California’s base power consumption has prompted support for keeping the plant open until more renewable power, and battery backups, can be installed.

Diablo Canyon is the only operating nuclear power station on the West Coast. The Biden administration has proposed a package totaling $6 billion in federal assistance to extend operations of nuclear plants whose licenses have expired or are about to expire.