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California Might Keep One Nuclear Plant Open

Anticipating electricity supply shortages well into 2026, California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed allowing the state’s last-remaining nuclear power plant to continue operations beyond its 2025 planned shutdown. 

The package of legislation, which included aggressive action against climate change,  must be passed by the end of August or be sidelined, according to ArsTechnica

Governor Newsom is proposing that the last nuclear plant be allowed to operate for an additional five to 10 years beyond 2025, arguing that it would help with the state’s ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions. 

The State of California is targeting 90% clean energy in 2035 for electricity generation. 

Saving the last nuclear plant–the 2.2 GW facility at Diablo Canyon–could help towards these goals, according to Newsom’s proposal, as it is carbon free energy. 

Diablo supplies a minimum of 5% and a maximum of 10% of California's electricity.  

That plant has two operational turbines, one set for decommissioning in 2024 and the other for the following year. The new plan–if passed by the legislature–would see the state provide the plant’s operator with a $1.4-billion loan to remain up and running. 

The proposal is expected to meet with significant opposition, not the least from environmentalists and others who are concerned about the seismic faults in the area of the plant, as well as the negative effects on the seawater that is used to cool the facility. 

However, Newsom believes that the state is at risk of missing its ambitious climate targets unless the nuclear plant is allowed to continue operations–suggesting that environmentalists will have to choose between these two eventualities.

“We are behind where we need to be in bringing our clean resources online,” Newsom stated during a webinar on Friday, as reported by E&E News, suggesting that decommissioning the nuclear plant could not happen without more advancement in adding clean energy to the mix. 

Newsom and his aides cited increasing demand and future demand projections for electricity with the growing adoption of electric vehicles, as well as the pressures of climate change and extreme heat. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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