February 3, 2023
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Diablo Canyon extension process hindered by federal regulators

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The plan to extend the life of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant may have been put on hold, pending the filing of a revised application with federal regulators. 

On Jan. 24, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission denied a request to renew a review of an operating license application from Pacific Gas & Electric, operators of Diablo Canyon, the last operating nuclear power facility in the state.

PG&E asked the NRC in October if it could resume the consideration of its application that it first began back in 2009 to keep Diablo operational.

PG&E abandoned that application in 2018 after state lawmakers had decided that it would be shutting down Diablo Canyon by the end of 2025.

In a letter, the NRC denied the request stating that it would “not be effective or efficient” to start the licensing review without up-to-date information on the plant’s condition — which has been a public concern since it was first announced the plant could remain open through 2030.

It has requested PG&E to submit a brand new application.

In response, PG&E has stated it will submit a new application for a 20-year extension — the typical length for such an application — by the end of the year.

Regardless, if PG&E hopes to operate the power plant beyond 2025, it will need some help from the NRC.

In December, PG&E made another request to federal regulators asking them to grant it an exemption from the law which states that it must file a license renewal application more than five years before the license expires.

Diablo Canyon’s unit 1 reactor license is set to expire on Nov. 2, 2024, while the second would expire on Aug. 26, 2025. 

This means the NRC would need to approve PG&E’s new application in just a little over a year in order for it to continue operating —- a process that normally takes almost five years.
If it is granted an exemption, PG&E would be able to operate the plant through the NRC’s review process, giving both the agency and the utility company time.

The NRC said in the Jan. 24 letter that it would provide a response by March.

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