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California lawmakers vote to approve the extension of Diablo Canyon for at least five more years

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Posted at 6:37 PM, Sep 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-02 01:49:08-04

After midnight on Thursday, the California state legislature approved Senate Bill 846, which allows for extended operations at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant for an extra five years.

This vote is the first step of many and is creating a pathway for PG&E to start the process of extending the power plant’s operations.

The most pressing item to get this bill passed was the September 6 deadline for PG&E to apply for federal funding.

According to state and local officials, there were many things that shaped this deal that serves as a critical milestone in extending Diablo Canyon past its 2025 lifespan.

“This is one of the critical pieces for our county and for the state in that we generate eight and a half percent of the state’s carbon-free electricity here," said San Luis Obispo County District 3 Supervisor Dawn-Ortiz-Legg.

The bill includes a $1.4 billion dollar loan to PG&E that would be paid back to the state with federal funds.

“We tried to protect the taxpayers and the ratepayers in this loan. No money to cover the cost of the loan will come from taxpayers or ratepayers. It will come 100% from the federal government. There will be no profit for the shareholders," said State Senator John Laird.

The bill also addressed concerns including seismic safety and deferred maintenance. Sen. Laird said independent studies will be conducted in response.

Another topic at hand is the staffing available for the power plant following approval of the extension.

“In the bill that was adopted last night there is differential that will be paid to people that chose to stay to incent a staff to be there during the next few years and during the extension," Laird stated.

PG&E said it will begin the next steps to seek federal relicensing once Governor Gavin Newsom signs the legislation.

In a statement to KSBY, PG&E said the following:

"PG&E is committed to California’s clean energy future. As a regulated utility, we follow the energy policies of the state. Early this morning, the legislature voted to seek to extend operations at Diablo Canyon Power Plant five years beyond its current license period to ensure statewide electric grid reliability as California transitions toward its clean energy future. This legislation has been sent to the Governor. We remain focused on continuing to provide reliable, low-cost, carbon-free energy to the people of California, while safely operating one of the top performing plants in the country."