Newsom Struggles With Decision Concerning Nuclear Plant Shutdown

As the need for energy in California continues to increase, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has now stated that he is reconsidering whether or not to shut down the state’s last remaining nuclear power plant.

Previously, the last operating nuclear power plant in the state of California was slated to shut down completely by 2025, but Newsom seems to starting to rethink the idea. He stated to one local news outlet that he is now going to support “keeping all options on the table” in order ot make sure that the state has a “reliable grid” to take into the upcoming summer.

“It is very, very hard at this point, to turn this battleship around,” stated a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Katie Tubb. “The first reactor is scheduled to close in 2024, the second in 2025. There’s a process to actually getting beyond those dates…”

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, the installation being spoken about, is directly owned by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) which was on schedule to shut down the plant by 2025. This particular plant was responsible for roughly 6% of the power for the state of California this past year. In 2016, PG&E reached an agreement with various environmental groups and its own union workers to halt its nuclear work once its current licenses for nuclear reactors expire in 2024 and 2025.

However, Newsom has made the choice to move the goalposts slightly. He stated that he is looking into attempting to get federal funds, to the tune of almost $6 billion dollars, that is directed at trying to help salvage the nuclear reactors facing shutdowns. The administration of Old Uncle Joe officially announced this particular funding back in April.

Newsom claimed that various state authorities could later figure out whether or not they would actually choose to move forward with that option. One spokesperson for the governor’s office stated to the L.A. Times that he still supports the overall shutting down of the plant eventually.

Despite all of this, Newsom does not actually have any power to make the choice because he does not own the plant. One explanation of the Biden’s administrations guidance on the issue states it “directs owners or operators of nuclear power reactors that are expected to shut down due to economic circumstances on how to apply for funding to avoid premature closure.”

While it seems that PG&E will need to apply for the funds itself, it seems like the company just might choose that option.

Suzanna Hosn, one spokesperson for PGE, stated via an email: “PG&E is committed to California’s clean energy future. The people of PG&E are proud of the role that Diablo Canyon Power Plant plays in our state. We are always open to considering all options to ensure continued safe, reliable, and clean energy delivery to our customers.”

The Heritage research fellow, Tubb, displayed doubts that the plant would continue to stay open. There is also one question as to whether the plant itself actually qualifies for the federal funds because, as stated by Tubb, it is being shut down for political reasons, not economic reasons.

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