California’s Governor Proposes Extending the Life of Its Last Nuclear Plant

“California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday proposed extending the life of the state’s last operating nuclear power plant by five to 10 years,” reports the Associated Press, “to maintain reliable power supplies in the climate change era.” Newsom’s draft proposal includes a potential forgivable loan for PG&E for up to $1.4 billion and would require state agencies to act quickly to clear the way for the reactors to continue running. The seaside plant located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco produces 9% of the state’s electricity. The proposal says its continued operation beyond 2025 is “critical to ensure statewide energy system reliability” as climate change stresses the energy system….

Newsom clearly wants to avoid a repeat of August 2020, when a record heat wave caused a surge in power use for air conditioning that overtaxed California’s electrical grid. That caused two consecutive nights of rolling blackouts for the state, affecting hundreds of thousands of residential and business customers. The Newsom administration is pushing to expand clean energy, as the state aims to cut emissions by 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Nuclear power doesn’t produce carbon pollution like fossil fuels, but leaves behind waste that can remain dangerously radioactive for centuries.

The California Legislature has less than three weeks to determine if it will endorse the plan and attempt to extend the life of the plant — a decision that would be made amid looming questions over the costs and earthquake safety risks…. The Democratic governor, who is seen as a possible future White House candidate, has urged PG&E for months to pursue a longer run beyond a scheduled closing by 2025, warning that the plant’s power is needed as the state transitions to solar, wind and other renewable sources of energy.
One Democratic State Senator concerned (from the district housing the plant) argued that another earthquake fault was discovered near the plant in 2008, and reminded the Associated Press that “seismic upgrades were never totally completed. Will they address that?”

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