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California lawmakers pass bill to extend life of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, authorize $1.4B loan

California lawmakers passed Senate Bill 846, which authorizes the extension of operating the Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant (DCPP) beyond the current expiration dates (of 2024 for Unit 1 and 2025 for Unit 2), to up to five additional years (no later than 2029 and 2030, respectively), under specified conditions.

The bill also authorizes a loan of $1.4 billion from the state to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the operator of DCPP, to facilitate the extension of the plant. The loan is contingent upon California qualifying and receiving federal reimbursement. The bill appropriates $600 million and requires future Legislative action for the remaining.

The bill also provides expedited permitting to facilitate relicensing of DCPP, including: limiting state agency review of applications related to the DCPP extension to 180 days; exempting DCPP from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA); and explicitly authorizing collections from electric ratepayers (both customers of PG&E and those of other electricity providers) for ongoing costs.

AB 846, was co-authored by Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa and Assembly member Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, and had broad bipartisan support. SB 846 passed the Assembly with a bipartisan 69-3 vote and cleared the Senate 31-1. It was backed by the Public Advocates Office, the California Independent System Operator, business and agricultural groups. It is also supported by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Diablo Canyon Power Plant supplies 17% of California’s zero-carbon electricity and more than 8% of its total electricity. The bill prohibits loan funds or energy revenue from profiting the plant operator’s shareholders, and instead credits market revenues back to ratepayers. It also puts the state on track to wean itself off of the energy from the plant with significant renewable-energy procurement by investing $1 billion to support a Clean Energy Reliability Investment Plan to accelerate deployment of clean energy resources, demand response and reliability improvements.

The Public Advocates Office, the independent consumer advocate at the California Public Utilities Commission, wrote that it supports “the robust ratepayer protections in SB 846 (Dodd), the Diablo Canyon extension proposal, which would create both statutory and administrative checks and balances. More broadly, this proposal would improve reliability and minimize carbon emissions.”

Governor Newsom had introduced draft legislation to continue Diablo operations two weeks ago. Lawmakers shortened the extension of the plant’s operations from a decade down to five years, and introduced SB 846 earlier this week.

Approval of the bill came shortly after state officials warned about a heat dome that will cover most of the state through the Labor Day weekend that will challenge the reliability of the state’s electric grid once again.

This bill is an essential step toward preventing rolling blackouts and increased electricity prices we would pay if forced to buy electricity from out-of-state, dirty carbon-emitting sources. We need to have this option available to keep the lights on and keep making progress towards net zero carbon emissions. Blackouts are a real threat and pose economic, health and safety risks, especially for the most vulnerable Californians.

—Sen. Dodd



A welcome although very partial outbreak of sanity.


They are way behind in ramping up for clean energy; it's either continue with A power or buy power from out of state at inflated prices and perhaps from dirty plants.

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