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Dozens of scientists sign letter to California governor urging him to keep Diablo Canyon Power Plant open

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Posted at 6:14 PM, Feb 04, 2022

Clean energy activists are continuing their fight against the closure of Diablo Canyon, the last nuclear power plant operating in California.

The founder of Save Clean Energy and 79 scientists have sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom urging him to take action.

"With the accelerating threat that climate change poses to life on Earth, we write today to urge that the state reverse the decision to prematurely shut down the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, California’s single largest source of carbon free electricity," the letter reads.

“We want to keep the conversation going and show the governor and show any representative in California that is in charge of seeing energy systems that there is not only public support but there’s also large support from a well-informed community, the community of scientists," said Isabelle Boemeke, founder and executive director of Save Clean Energy.

While it would require multiple agencies to be involved in keeping the power plant open, activists and scientists are focusing their efforts on Gov. Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission.

“With the governor’s support and CPUC’s support, would signal to PG&E or maybe potentially another operator that there is interest in keeping the plant open and we can restart the process of relicensing the plant," Boemeke said.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license for Diablo Canyon is set to expire in 2025.

Other state and federal permits would also need to be extended in order for the plant to continue to operate legally.

According to Assemblyman Jordan Cunnigham's office, if the governor wanted to reverse the decision to close the power plant, there would have to be an agreement with PG&E or another entity that wanted to buy the plant.

“The power to keep Diablo Canyon operating past 2025 lies in the hands of Governor Newsom. The Biden administration has already backed the idea of keeping the plant open, and two former federal energy secretaries have made the case that closing Diablo puts the grid and California's climate goals at risk," Cunningham said.

However, in a statement, a PG&E spokesperson says the company remains on track to decommission the plant.

"PG&E is committed to California’s clean energy future, and as a regulated utility, we are required to follow the energy policies of the state," PG&E said in a statement. "At this time, the state has not indicated any change in position regarding the future of nuclear energy in California. The plan to retire Diablo Canyon Power Plant was introduced in 2016 and was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, the state legislature, and Governor Brown in 2018. Our focus, therefore, remains on safely and reliably operating the plant until the end of its NRC licenses, which expire in 2024 and 2025."

KSBY tried to reach the governor's office but has not yet received a response.