California nuke extension challenged in legislative proposal

Aug 19, 2022, 7:19 AM | Updated: 7:20 pm
FILE - One of Pacific Gas & Electric's Diablo Canyon Power Plant's nuclear reactors in Avila Beach,...

FILE - One of Pacific Gas & Electric's Diablo Canyon Power Plant's nuclear reactors in Avila Beach, Calif., is viewed Nov. 3, 2008. A proposal circulated Friday, Aug. 19, 2022 by California Democratic legislators would reject Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposal to extend the lifespan of the state's last operating nuclear power plant and instead spend over $5 billion to speed up the development of renewable energy, promote conservation and aid ratepayers hit by climbing electricity bills (AP Photo/Michael A. Mariant, File)

(AP Photo/Michael A. Mariant, File)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A proposal circulated Friday by California Democratic legislators would reject Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to extend the lifespan of the state’s last operating nuclear power plant — and instead spend over $1 billion to speed up the development of renewable energy, new transmission lines and storage to maintain reliable power in the climate change era.

The legislative plan obtained by The Associated Press reveals mounting tension between the Democratic governor and some members of his own party over a politically volatile issue.

The rift was revealed one week after Newsom proposed giving plant operator Pacific Gas & Electric a forgivable loan up to $1.4 billion as part of a plan to keep the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant running beyond its scheduled closing by 2025.

Newsom has argued that as hotter temperatures drive up the demand for power, the twin-domed reactors along the coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco would provide a necessary buffer against electrical blackouts, as the state transitions to power from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

The legislative plan drops the idea of keeping the decades-old reactors running. Instead, it would funnel the $1.4 billion Newsom proposed for PG&E into speeding up other zero-carbon power and new transmission lines to get the electricity to customers.

The legislative plan included a series of related, but separate, proposals for investing over $1 billion to install install energy-efficient cooling and lighting for low-income Californians, at no cost to qualifying residents. It would also place $900 million in an “electric ratepayer relief fund” to provide bill credits to offset ratepayer costs. Another $900 million would got toward funding solar and storage systems for low-income households, among other programs.

The conflict over Diablo Canyon reveals deep anxiety among some legislators that Newsom wants an abrupt, complex turnaround in state energy policy with less than two weeks left in the legislative session, which ends for the year at the end of August.

Newsom’s proposal also came with many unanswered questions and concerns, including how ratepayers across the state might be impacted, the risk of sidestepping environmental rules and whether continued power from the reactors for years to come might crowd out wind and other renewables expected to start production in the future.

It was not immediately clear how broadly the Democratic alternative was supported in the Legislature.

Newsom’s proposal to reverse course restarted a decades-long fight over seismic safety — several earthquake faults are near the nuclear plant, with one fault running 650 yards (594 meters) from the reactors. Critics said Newsom’s plan for the plant guts environmental safeguards while providing a huge financial giveaway to the investor-owned utility.

Newsom spokesperson Anthony York said the governor “wants California to go faster to meet our climate goals, while ensuring we can keep the lights on and safely transition to clean power.”

York said the proposal came out of the state Assembly and “feels like fantasy and fairy dust, and reflects a lack of vision and a lack of understanding about the scope of the climate problem.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office declined comment.

The governor’s late-hour proposal amounts to an attempt to unspool a complex 2016 agreement among PG&E, environmentalists and plant worker unions to close the reactors by 2025, which Newsom supported at the time as lieutenant governor. The joint decision also was endorsed by California utility regulators, the Legislature and then-Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

With the state’s legislative session ending for the year at the end of the month, there is little time to work out a compromise on a vastly complex issue. PG&E CEO Patricia “Patti” Poppe told investors in a call last month that state legislation would have to be signed by Newsom by September to open the way for the utility to reverse course.

PG&E also would have to obtain a new operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to run the plant beyond 2025. The utility is following two tracks — assessing the possibility of a longer run, while simultaneously continuing to plan for closing and dismantling the plant, as scheduled.

In a statement, the utility said it was aware of continuing discussions to potentially extend Diablo Canyon’s lifespan and PG&E stands ready “should there be a change in state policy.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Eviation's "Alice", the world's first all-electric commuter airplane, takes off for its first fligh...
Associated Press

Prototype electric airplane takes first flight

A prototype, all-electric airplane took its first flight Tuesday morning in central Washington state.
12 hours ago
Attorney Alexandra Benevento, center, speaks with reporters during a news conference announcing a c...
Associated Press

Sex abuse allegations spread against cheerleading industry

Sprawling allegations of abuse against cheerleaders reached Tennessee on Monday in a case that escalates the accusations facing some of the sport’s top institutions. An adult coach sexually assaulted teenage boys at Premier Athletics, according to allegations in a federal lawsuit filed in Memphis that is similar to a previous complaint against Rockstar Cheer in […]
2 days ago
FILE - A group in military fatigues walks in front of Jackman Hall on the campus of Norwich Univers...
Associated Press

Student who sued military over HIV policy settles case

BOSTON (AP) — A student at a military college who sued top Pentagon officials after he was deemed unfit for service because he tested positive for HIV has settled his lawsuit and plans to pursue his dream of becoming an Army officer, his lawyers said Tuesday. “I am incredibly grateful to be back on track […]
2 days ago
Associated Press

Woman critical, suspect dead after Indiana plant shooting

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — A woman is in critical condition Tuesday, a day after she was shot in the head outside a Subaru plant in northwest Indiana, police said. The suspected gunman was later found dead nearby. Officers who responded Monday afternoon a report of a shooting at Subaru of Indiana Automotive in Lafayette found […]
2 days ago
FILE - Bagged lunches await stapling before being distributed to students at the county's Tri-Plex ...
Associated Press

White House conference puts spotlight on hunger relief

For months, Catholic Charities of Southeast Texas has had to waitlist families hoping to join a food pantry program, as the nonprofit and other charities have struggled to meet soaring demand amid rising food prices and the end of federal pandemic relief aid. The families who frequent the food bank, which is stocked like a […]
2 days ago
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks at Cypress Creek Renewables solar field in Chapel Hill, N.C....
Associated Press

Yellen warns inaction on climate could cause economic crisis

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Tuesday of economic calamity if climate change is not addressed with immediate government intervention. Joined by local business owners and prominent Democrats in North Carolina, Yellen said the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters could create devastating short-term supply reductions of everyday goods that […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
California nuke extension challenged in legislative proposal