California Could Use Nuclear Power Bailout Funds to Save Plant Ordered Closed for Safety Reasons

© Wikipedia / Mike BairdDiablo Canyon Power Plant
Diablo Canyon Power Plant - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.04.2022
The California government is seeking to use money from a federal infrastructure program to save from closure a nuclear power plant that’s being shuttered after refusing to implement necessary safety upgrades.
Speaking to the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom said the Golden State needed to act quickly if it wanted to get money from a Department of Energy program intended to prop up the budgets of nuclear power plants in danger of closing.
“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.”
However, the plant in question, the Diablo Canyon Power Plant near San Luis Obispo, is scheduled for closure in three years not because it’s going bankrupt, but because owner Pacific Gas & Electric PG&E) has refused to implement necessary upgrades to make it more environmentally friendly and safer in case of earthquakes.
Like Japan, California straddles a series of seismic faults that help make up the Pacific Ring of Fire, a geologically unstable region where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common. After a March 2011 earthquake off the coast of the Japanese city of Sendai created a massive tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant lost all power and suffered three partial nuclear meltdowns, ejecting radioactive material and causing more than 150,000 people to evacuate.
A recent poll by the LA Times and the University of California at Berkeley found that only 44% of state voters would support building more nuclear plants in the state and 39% oppose shutting down Diablo Canyon.
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Doc Searls / Diablo Canyon Power PlantDiablo Canyon Power Plant, on the coast of California
Diablo Canyon Power Plant, on the coast of California - Sputnik International, 1920, 29.04.2022
Diablo Canyon Power Plant, on the coast of California
Diablo Canyon is California’s last nuclear power plant and the single largest producer of electricity in the state, accounting for 6% of its power production last year. Newsom and the Biden administration would like to save plants like Diablo Canyon in order to ease the country’s transition off fossil fuels, which provide 57% of the United States’ net electricity consumption, according to US Energy Information Agency data.
“PG&E is committed to California’s clean energy future,” company spokesperson Suzanne Hosn told the San Luis Obispo Tribune. “The people of PG&E are proud of the role that Diablo Canyon Power Plant plays in our state. We are always open to considering all options to ensure continued safe, reliable, and clean energy delivery to our customers.”
Paradoxically, after deciding to ban Russian petroleum imports last month, the Biden White House is now pushing for an expansion of oil production to alleviate rising gasoline prices.
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