Environment California, Friends of the Earth and NRDC react to Gov. Newsom’s push to reopen Diablo Canyon
SACRAMENTO – News broke today that Governor Newsom’s administration is pushing to extend the life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant by at least 5 to 10 years.
Environment California, Friends of the Earth and NRDC issued the following statement in response:
The Newsom administration is circulating a bill to extend the lifetime of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant by “five to ten years,” with no required retirement date thereafter. Legislators should reject it out of hand. The bill includes sweeping exemptions from the California Environmental Quality Act, the California Coastal Act and California’s once-through cooling requirements. Federal Coastal Zone Management Act compliance requirements would be lifted – a real stretch for a California statute. State permitting agencies would be forced to act on license extension applications within a truncated timeframe of 180 days and would have to “prioritize” findings that the plant is “critical” to maintaining reliable electricity service. The State of California would loan PG&E up to $1.4 billion to cover costs of extending Diablo Canyon’s operating life, with all of the loan potentially “forgivable,” meaning it may never be returned to California taxpayers. In addition, the state would pay PG&E seven dollars for every megawatt-hour of power generated “prior to the start of extended operations.” Diablo Canyon’s annual generation averages more than 17,000,000 megawatt hours, so that annual subsidy would exceed $120 million. The bill includes no reference to the settlement agreement governing the plant’s retirement in 2025, which was reached in 2016 by diverse parties and endorsed by the legislature almost unanimously in 2018. Nor does it so much as mention accelerated energy efficiency or demand response measures as a potential response to reliability challenges.
The findings used to justify these extraordinary provisions include no citations to published studies by any California regulator or agency recommending a further life extension for Diablo Canyon because there are none. With Governor Newsom and the legislature working to appropriate climate budget funds and advance ambitious climate legislation in the waning days of the legislative session, this proposal is a dangerous and costly distraction.