“The funding is part of a controversial bill that aims to address some of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s most pressing concerns – maintaining the reliability of the state’s increasingly strained power grid and avoiding the prospect politically damage from blackouts or blackouts,” writes Nadia Lopez, environmental reporter for CalMatters, in the source article updated June 30.
The energy trailer bill brokered by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration and approved by lawmakers Wednesday night allocates a reserve fund of up to $75 million to the state Department of Water Resources to extend operation aging power plants slated for closure.
Rachel Becker and Julie Cart, environmental correspondents for CalMatters, reported more on extending the life of these aging natural gas power plants:
As part of the budget’s energy package, lawmakers are also negotiating provisions that would extend the use of four natural gas-fired power plants now scheduled to be decommissioned next year. [pdf]. The closures have already been delayed by state officials for three years.
Lopez notes that if “the Newsom administration chooses to extend the life of the nuclear plant, funding would allow it – although the actual cost to retain the 37-year-old facility owned by Pacific Gas and Electric is not known” .
While it is true that the energy bill does not itself authorize the extension of the life of the plant, it provides the money if the leaders of the State decide to do so. Such a move would require “subsequent legislation and review and approval by state, local and federal regulatory entities,” said Lindsay Buckley, spokeswoman for the California Energy Commission.
The record $308 billion budget was passed after “Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill, and more than two dozen others who guide how the money will be spent, Thursday, calling it a investment in ‘our core values at a pivotal time,’ CalMatters Capitol reporter Alexei Koseff wrote on June 30.
As noted in a related article, “Extending the life of California’s largest power plant” (May 31, 2022), the decision to seek federal funding in a new energy program under the Investment Act and infrastructure employment (aka the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act signed by President Biden last November) to extend the life of the 2,256 MW power plant, the state’s largest, is expected to come from the owner, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the nation’s largest utility (by revenue).
Rob Nikolewski, the energy reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune, wrote on July 6 that the utility plans to do so now that the U.S. Department of Energy has conducted a technical review allowing the app.
Suzanne Hosn, spokeswoman for PG&E, said that given the review and “Newsom’s request that we take steps to preserve Diablo as an option to promote network reliability, we plan to submit a funding application ( of the Ministry of Energy).
Opposition and support
Many in the environmental community remain strongly opposed to extending Diablo Canyon’s lifespan.
“Sierra Club California is deeply concerned about Governor Newsom’s obsession with continuously funding dangerous and polluting energy resources,” Sierra Club California Director Brandon Dawson said in a July 7 press release.
Instead of supporting outdated nuclear power plants, Newsom should instead provide more resources and funding to deploy renewable energy infrastructure across California.
Nikolewski noted that a group of 37 scientists, scholars and entrepreneurs sent a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on June 27 supporting the revision of the civilian nuclear credit program’s eligibility to include Diablo Canyon.
“While California has a very large share of electricity from renewable sources, California will need to increase its total renewable energy production by 20% in just two years to replace the clean energy produced at Diablo Canyon,” indicates the letter.
Related: 4 tagged articles Diablo Canyon