California Lawmakers Approve Legislation That Allows For Nuclear Plant’s Continued Operation

California lawmakers voted to approve legislation that allows for the possible extension of the operation of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP), California’s only remaining operating nuclear power plant.

The vote to approve the measure followed on the heels of a recent California Senate Committee hearing related to the possible extension of the operation of the DCPP. Additional details on the bill are available here.

In June 2016, California investor-owned utility PG&E said it planned to retire Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California under a joint proposal with labor and environmental groups. The California Public Utilities Commission in 2018 signed off on a request by PG&E that it be allowed to retire the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant by 2025. The two units at Diablo Canyon together produce approximately 2,300 net megawatts of power.

Ana Matosantos, cabinet secretary to Newsom, said at the California Senate hearing that the DCPP proposal creates the conditions for an extension of Diablo Canyon “for the shortest amount of time necessary to be able to maintain the goal of reliability and continuing to move forward on our transition.” She said that proposed extension is for a five-year period with the possibility of revisiting that duration.

At the Senate hearing, Maureen Zawalick, Vice President of Decommissioning and Technical Services at Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), said at the hearing that an extension of the nuclear plant would require a number of federal and state regulatory approvals.

“There are also some critical near-term activities we would have to quickly undertake to make a viable option for the state including funding, fuel purchasing and used fuel management,” she said. “The fuel purchasing and used fuel management take about an 18 month to two-year lead time. And we also need to be ramping up a project team to support the NRC license renewal application.”

The bill, SB-846, now goes to the desk of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is expected to sign the bill, according to various media reports.