Owned and operated by PG&E, the nuclear power plant located near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, California provides power for over three million people and is originally scheduled to fully retire in 2025


The Diablo Canyon power plant in California. (Credit: Tracey Adams/Wikipedia.org)

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that seeks to extend the operations of the 2.2GW Diablo Canyon power plant (DCPP) in the US state by five years in order to support state-wide grid reliability.

Located near Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County, the nuclear power plant is owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). It provides power for over three million people.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is made up of two units, each having a capacity of 1.13GW. Its current license is originally scheduled to expire in 2025.

Senate Bill 846, which was signed into law by the Governor, follows approval from the California State Legislature. To support extending operations at the Diablo Canyon power plant, California will authorise a loan of up to $1.4bn to PG&E.

Newsom said: “Climate change is causing unprecedented stress on California’s energy system and I appreciate the Legislature’s action to maintain energy reliability as the State accelerates the transition to clean energy.

“Senate Bill 846 facilitates the actions necessary to keep the option of the DCPP as a statewide reliability asset beyond the current 2024-2025 retirement dates of the plant’s two units.”

PG&E’s next steps will be to secure the required licenses from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) along with other necessary approvals from California state regulators.

According to PG&E, the bill directs the utility to take measures to obtain funds from the US Department of Energy (DOE), and any other possibly available funding from the federal government. The funds will be used for paying back the loan and reducing costs for customers.

PG&E said that it has furnished an application for federal funding via the Civil Nuclear Credit programme of the DOE.

Presently, the Diablo Canyon power plant is said to make up nearly 17% of zero-carbon electricity supply in California and 8.6% of the total electricity supply of the state.

PG&E CEO Patti Poppe said: “PG&E is committed to California’s clean energy future. As a regulated utility, we follow the energy policies of the state. We are proud of the role Diablo Canyon plays in providing safe, reliable, low-cost and carbon-free energy to our customers and Californians.

“We will do our part to help the state achieve its energy reliability and decarbonisation goals, while continuing to run one of the top performing plants in the country. The team of people at Diablo Canyon delivers for our hometowns every day through their industry-leading commitment to safe operations.”