Biden awards $1.1 billion to PG&E to keep Diablo Canyon nuclear plant open

Aerial view of Diablo Canyon, California’s only remaining operational nuclear power plant, which is scheduled to shut down in 2024 despite safely producing nearly 15% of the state’s green electric power, is seen in these aerial photos taken December 1, 2021, near Avila Beach, California.

George Rose | Getty Images

The Biden administration said Monday it was giving Pacific Gas & Electric Co. a $1.1 billion grant to help the company prevent the shutdown of Diablo Canyon, California’s last nuclear power plant.

Diablo Canyon was originally scheduled to be decommissioned in two phases in 2024 and 2025, but state lawmakers in September voted to keep it open for five more years. PG&E has applied for funding under the initial phase of the Department of Energy’s $6 billion civilian nuclear credit program to keep US nuclear reactors open.

The conditional funding, which comes from the bipartisan Infrastructure Act passed by Congress last year, creates a path for Diablo Canyon to stay open and could allow PG&E to repay part of the $1.4 billion loan. dollars for the plant that lawmakers approved.

Diablo Canyon is California’s largest energy source, providing 8.6% of the state’s total electricity and 17% of its carbon-free electricity. This has helped the state deal with power shortages as temperatures in California continue to rise and heat waves intensify with climate change.

“This is a critical step in ensuring that our nation’s nuclear fleet will continue to provide reliable and affordable electricity to Americans as the nation’s largest source of clean electricity,” the Energy Secretary said. Jennifer Granholm, in a press release.

However, Diablo Canyon reviewers pointed out that the plant, which is located next to the Pacific Ocean in San Luis Obispo County, is vulnerable to earthquakes and that there are no permanent waste disposal solution.

Final grant terms are subject to negotiation and finalization, the Department of Energy said, but the funding is designed to cover PG&E’s anticipated losses in keeping Diablo Canyon open. Not all factories that have applied to the Department of Energy program receive funding in this initial phase.

The Biden administration has argued that nuclear power is essential to combat climate change and to help it achieve its commitment to 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy. 2050.

“Nuclear power will help us meet President Biden’s climate goals, and with these historic investments in clean energy, we can protect these facilities and the communities they serve,” Granholm said.

Nuclear power provides 50% of the country’s carbon-free electricity, but changing energy markets and other economic factors have led to the early shutdown of 13 commercial reactors since 2013, the Department of Health said. ‘energy.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, said in a statement that keeping the Diablo Canyon plant open is necessary for the state to meet its clean energy goals while continuing to provide reliable power. Feinstein said she would monitor the funding process to ensure strict safety and environmental reviews are undertaken at the federal and state levels.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a press release that the grant will provide a time-limited expansion of the plant and “support statewide reliability and provide an on-ramp for more clean energy projects to come online.”

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