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U.S. Government Approves $1.1 Billion to Sustain California’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant

by Anna

The Biden administration has officially greenlit $1.1 billion in funding aimed at ensuring the continued operation of California’s last operational nuclear power plant, the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. This financial support is a crucial element in extending the plant’s lifespan until at least 2030, which exceeds the initially planned closure date.

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The Energy Department finalized the approval on Wednesday, providing essential financial backing for the plan to maintain electricity production at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. Specific terms of the aid package were not disclosed.

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Originally, a 2016 agreement was reached among plant operator Pacific Gas & Electric, environmental groups, and plant worker unions to shut down the decades-old reactors by 2025. However, in 2022, the California Legislature, responding to Governor Gavin Newsom’s concerns about potential blackouts due to climate change impacts on the energy system, nullified the agreement.

The Diablo Canyon Power Plant, situated between Los Angeles and San Francisco, has been a focal point of contention in California’s complex relationship with nuclear power. The state, historically a trailblazer in the environmental movement, has seen debates between proponents highlighting the need for power and critics emphasizing potential safety risks and hindrance to developing cleaner energy sources.

While nuclear power offers a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels, the issue of radioactive waste disposal remains a challenge. Despite concerns raised by environmentalists, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) disputes safety risks and highlights the necessity of continued operation to address power demand.

PG&E has concurrently submitted an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a 20-year extension of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s operating licenses. It is underscored that the state authorities will have control over determining the duration of the reactors’ operation. The broader discourse around the Diablo Canyon Power Plant unfolds against the backdrop of a global reevaluation of the nuclear industry’s role in addressing climate change concerns.

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