California may rescue its last nuclear power plant — and give PG&E millions to do it – Times-Herald

A bill that is being considered by Parliament would pave the way for California lawmakers to extend their lives. Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plantthe last nuclear facility in the state, after the planned closure.

The energy trailer bill Negotiated by Prime Minister Gavin Newsom, it is allocating a $ 75 million reserve fund to the State Department of Water Resources to extend the operation of the old power plants scheduled to close. Diablo Canyon, on the coast near St. Louis Bishop, has been preparing to close for more than five years.

Funding a conflicting bill this, if enacted, aims to address a couple of serious concerns for Newsom: maintaining the reliability of the state’s increasingly narrow power grid and avoiding politically damaging disruptions or blackouts.

If the Newsom administration decides to extend the life of the nuclear power plant, the funding would allow for that, although the actual cost of maintaining the 37-year-old facility owned by Pacific Gas and Electric is unknown. Newsom’s office and the Department of Water Resources did not immediately respond to several requests for comment. At the request of an estimate, PG&E spokeswoman Lynsey Paul did not provide.

Even if it’s just a contingency fund, the optics to send millions of dollars to the state’s largest service to the state and the federal government – with the latest record of responsibility for deadly fires and state “rescues” – are politically problematic.

While the energy bill does not in itself allow for the extension of the life of the plant, it does provide money if state leaders so decide. The move would “require review and approval by subsequent legislation and state, local and federal regulatory bodies,” said California Energy Commission spokeswoman Lindsay Buckley.

Overall, the energy trailer bill is set to face a thorny transition as California tries to move beyond its dependence on fossil fuels. Achieve carbon neutrality by 2045. The legislation expresses the state’s concern that, in extreme weather events, renewable energy alone is not enough to meet the state’s rising power demand.

State Solution: Keep Diablo Canyon open as a failure, and pay to renovate various fossil fuel facilities and create protective energy.

“The governor asked for this language, not as a decision to move forward with the operation of Diablo Canyon, but to protect the possibility of doing so if a future decision is made,” said state Sen. John Laird, a Santa Cruz Democrat.

He also said that the public should be able to measure before making a final decision on the fate of the plant.

“It’s been years since the closure of Diablo Canyon, with hundreds of millions of dollars already committed to deactivating it,” Laird said. “Along with the residents of the Central Coast, I am eager to see what the governor and federal officials have in mind.”

Aerial view of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County, Avila Beach, California (Photo: Mark Ralston / AFP via Getty Images)

Located on the state’s Central Coast, Diablo Canyon has been supplying the state’s power grid since 1985. Its 2,240 megawatts of electricity is enough to roughly meet the needs. More than 3 million people.

In 2016, PG&E announced plans to close the nuclear power plant, indicating that the transition to renewable energy would make ongoing operations too costly. The California Public Services Commission approved the closure in 2018 after the public service reached an agreement with advocacy groups and environmentalists. The facility has two reactors: one reactor will be shut down in 2024, and the second in 2025.

Whatever the future decision about the life span of a nuclear power plant, nothing can happen without federal and state funding.

The Biden Administration generated $ 6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit Program to rescue nuclear power plants with financial difficulties, and Newsom said it will consider applying for federal funding to keep Diablo Canyon open before its scheduled closure in 2025.

But to get federal funding, PG&E has to deal with the July 5 deadline. The service on Tuesday asked the federal government to apply for a 75-day extension.

Some federal conditions could prevent Diablo Canyon from obtaining that federal funding, so the Newsom administration last month he sent a letter Federal Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm is calling for changes to ensure Diablo Canyon’s eligibility. In this regard, it has been proposed by the Department of Energy removing a condition: that the applicant has not recovered “more than 50% of its cost from the regulation of the cost of the service or from regulated contracts”.

PG&E stated its support for the change in its letter to the Department of Energy on Tuesday. He also called on the agency to provide an extension, adding that “PG & E should be given time to receive and analyze information and prepare an application.”

“The state’s current energy policy is to remove the power plant when the licenses expire in 2024 and 2025, but given the state’s final direction, we have asked for an extension of the application period,” Paul said. “The Department of Energy would reduce costs for customers if the state decides to keep the plant open to support network reliability.”

But changing federal rules to adapt PG&E is a bad idea for California’s longtime critics of nuclear power. To keep the plant running, PG&E would need to renovate the seismic facility and make major investments in cooling system and maintenance innovations, costs that outweigh the benefits, the nonprofit nuclear organization San Luis Obispo Mother wrote in a statement. letter sent to the Department of Energy on Monday.

Linda Seeley, a neighbor of St. Louis Bishop and a longtime member of the group, said the expansion of Diablo Canyon will cause “a lot of problems.”

“This is very wrong. It’s a game of despair, ”he said. “I know we are in a very serious climate crisis, but this is not a rational or practical response.”

The contributors stress that funds are needed to keep the plant open and to advance the state’s goals while achieving a carbon-neutral economy as it tackles climate change. A coalition of 37 scientists, activists and academics on Monday he sent a letter To the Secretary of Energy Granholm, expressing his adherence to the proposal of the Department of Energy.

“Given our climate crisis, not accepting this amendment could lead to plant closure,” the letter said. “That would not only be irresponsible, the consequences could be catastrophic. We are in a hurry to decarbonize our planet from the more serious consequences of climate change and hopefully save it. We believe that the closure of Diablo Canyon in 2025 is inconsistent with that goal. “

California faces major barriers to addressing its electricity supply challenges as the climate crisis escalates and states move to renewable energy. Rising temperatures and heat waves have been hitting the state in recent years, tightening the supply and increasing the risk of power outages. It has a long drought depleted sources of hydropowermore frequently while fires continue to threaten the state’s electrical infrastructure.

The state’s energy trailer bill, which was negotiated within the budget process, would significantly expand the competence of the Energy Commission and the Department of Water Resources. to mitigate electricity projects. The bill would give the water agency the power to locate, build and operate the electrical facility wherever it wishes, and does not require the agency to comply with applicable state or local laws.

Invoice financing may allow PG&E to invest dry barrel storage, a method of safely storing spent fuel. The money could also be used to pay for capacity – the public dollars used to sustain the operation of a plant – and to provide flexible alerts when a public service voluntarily requires its customers to reduce their energy consumption and use energy during off-peak hours, Michael said. Colvin, director of regulatory and legislative affairs for the nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund.

The goal, he said, is to have the money available during peak hours and to maintain operations for power reductions that could be caused by extreme weather.

“Part of that money would basically be to keep these types of plants around and at rest,” he said. “I see this allocation as a contingency fund; we don’t necessarily think we need this, but if we do, we want to have a little bit of flexibility available. Now to set aside some money to do that is probably a good use of public funds. considering. ‘

Although Diablo Canyon is seen as a climate-friendly alternative for proponents of California’s nuclear power, opponents cite safety threats and problems storing radioactive waste. And the ability to stay open poses many technical, financial, and logistical challenges. PG&E would have to apply again with the Federal Nuclear Licensing Regulatory Commission, which would issue licenses to continue operating the plant, for which it would have to obtain state and federal approval. It should also address the problems of aging infrastructure at the site.

The Commission issues licenses for the operation of nuclear reactors for 40 years, while allowing them to be renewed for another 20 years.

While it’s unclear how many more years the plant could last, Colvin said it’s unlikely the state would be able to extend it for decades. He said the plant is more likely to continue to operate for another five years or more.

“I don’t think we need assets like Diablo Canyon for a long time,” he said, “and certainly not in the size and shape of what Diablo Canyon is.”

California may rescue its last nuclear power plant — and give PG&E millions to do it – Times-Herald Source link California may rescue its last nuclear power plant — and give PG&E millions to do it – Times-Herald

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