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California Energy Commission Determines Nuclear Plant Needed to Support Grid Reliability

The California Energy Commission on Feb. 28 approved a staff analysis recommending the state pursue extending operation of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant through 2030 to ensure electricity reliability.

The determination is based on data showing California risks energy supply shortfalls during extreme weather events driven by climate change, the CEC said.

California Senate Bill 846 requires the CEC to determine the need to extend DCPP’s license to operate beyond its expiration date of 2025.

Located in San Luis Obispo County, DCPP is owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The nuclear power plant supplies about 17 percent of California’s zero-carbon electricity and 9 percent of total electricity.

The CEC will publish additional analysis this year comparing the cost of alternatives to the cost of extending DCPP. At the same time, the California Public Utilities Commission is evaluating how an extension would impact electricity rates.

Ultimately, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will consider whether to approve PG&E’s application to extend the plant’s operating license.

In a 2022 letter to the CEO of PG&E, groups representing public power utilities and electric cooperatives in Arizona made the case for extending the life of the California nuclear power plant Diablo Canyon Power Plant past its existing license.