By KAREN VELIE
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is considering attempting to keep Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County open beyond its planned closure in 2025. [L.A. Times]
On Thursday, Newsom told the L.A. Times editorial board the state would seek $6 billion in federal funds that the Biden Administration allocated for rescuing nuclear reactors facing closure. The Biden Administration has previously encouraged California to consider keeping Diablo Canyon open, rather than shutting it down by 2025.
“The requirement is by May 19 to submit an application, or you miss the opportunity to draw down any federal funds if you want to extend the life of that plant,” Newsom said. “We would be remiss not to put that on the table as an option.”
State officials could decide later whether to pursue that option, Newsom said. A spokesperson for Newsom clarified that the governor still wants to see Diablo Canyon shut down long term.
Newsom said he has been talking about keeping Diablo Canyon open since Aug. 2020, when the state started experiencing rolling blackouts. It is unclear, though, if PG&E is onboard with the idea.
Newsom said he has asked PG&E to consider what it would take to keep Diablo Canyon open longer, including the possibility of acquiring federal funds.
“Based on the conversations we’ve been having with PG&E, it’s not their happy place,” Newsom said.
When asked if the utility is open to keeping Diablo Canyon running past its planned closure date, PG&E spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo said the company is “always open to considering all options to ensure continued, safe, reliable and clean energy delivery to our customers.”
Anthony York, Newsom’s spokesperson, said the governor’s decision to reconsider the planned closure of Diablo Canyon was driven by projections of possible power shortages over the next few years.
Reliable electricity is profoundly important, Newsom said. The governor also acknowledged the growing number of scientists and activists, as well as former U.S. energy secretaries, who have pressed him to keep Diablo Canyon open for climate-related reasons.
“Some would say it’s the righteous and right climate decision,” Newsom said.
Locally, Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham and Democratic San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg have called for officials to consider whether Diablo Canyon should remain open at least 10 years past its scheduled decommissioning.