Nuclear Power

23 Nov 2022

California’s Last Nuclear Power Plant Gets $1.1BN Lifeline

23 Nov 2022  by   

Diablo Canyon, courtesy PGE

The US Department of Energy (DOE) said it would conditionally provide California utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) with a $1.1 billion grant to help prevent the closure of Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuclear power plant.

The funding comes from Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) programme, a $6 billion fund aimed at supporting the continued operation of US nuclear plants. It was born out of the infrastructure bill signed into law in November 2021. The programme allows reactor owners and operators to apply for and bid on credits to support their continued operations.

PG&E filed its application for CNC funding in September 2022, the same day California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law legislation seeking to extend operations at Diablo Canyon for five years beyond its current license expiration in 2025.

The plant would be used as a bridge while renewable energy and other carbon-free resources come online in California.

“I welcome the news that the Department of Energy has awarded $1.1 billion to help keep the Diablo Canyon Power Plant open. This short-term extension is necessary if California is going to meet its ambitious clean energy goals while continuing to deliver reliable power. I will continue to monitor this process to ensure thorough and rigorous safety and environmental reviews are undertaken at both the federal and state levels,” said US Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA).

In October the state authorized a loan of up to $1.4 billion from the Department of Water Resources to PG&E to support extending operations at the nuclear plant.

Another US nuclear plant is not expected to get the same support under the CNC programme. DOE recently rejected a request for funding to reopen the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan, according to plant owner Holtec International.

Holtec bought Palisades in May 2022 to decommission the 805MW plant and applied for funding from the initial phase of the programme. The plant, formerly owned by Entergy, was shut down last Spring after generating electricity for more than 50 years.

Reopening Palisades was supported by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who called it a “top priority” for the state.


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