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Biden gives PG&E $1 billion to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant open

By Sammy Roth | November 21, 2022 | Los Angeles Times

Diablo Canyon Power Plant

The Diablo Canyon Power Plant, near San Luis Obispo, is California’s last operating nuclear plant.

The case for nuclear power as a climate solution got a big boost Monday, when the Biden administration announced it’s giving Pacific Gas & Electric Co. a $1.1-billion grant to help the company keep operating California’s last nuclear plant.

The Diablo Canyon plant is currently scheduled to shut down in two phases, with the first reactor going offline in 2024 and the second in 2025. But Gov. Gavin Newsom has led a spirited push to keep the reactors humming five more years, saying they’re badly needed to help the Golden State grapple with power shortages and worsening heat waves.

The federal money doesn’t guarantee Diablo Canyon will stay open longer. But it increases the likelihood of California continuing to rely on the plant, along the Central Coast in San Luis Obispo County — despite decades of anti-nuclear activism and public concerns about what would happen if an earthquake erupts along one of the seismic fault lines near the facility.

PG&E Chief Executive Patti Poppe noted that Diablo Canyon supplied more than 8% of California’s electricity last year — and 17% of the state’s climate-friendly, carbon-free electricity. She also said the plant has a strong safety record.

“It is a good choice for the state of California — and for frankly the planet — that a well-performing plant like Diablo Canyon could continue to serve,” Poppe said in an interview.

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