The US Department of Energy granted a $1.1billion grant to Pacific Gas & Electric Monday to support nuclear energy in California. This was to extend the life of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, which is located on the central California coast.
The Diablo plant was to be shut down in two stages, one in 2024, and the other in 2025. Gov. Gavin Newsom worked hard to avoid California’s recent stress on the electric grid by extreme heat waves and destructive wildfires.
Although the federal grant does not guarantee that the plant will remain open beyond 2025 it creates a pathway for Diablo Canyon to continue open, DOE stated in a press release.
The DOE is still negotiating and finalizing the conditional grant. It’s a substantial payout from the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure law that Biden signed last November. This legislation will invest in America’s infrastructure including roads and bridges as well as the internet and electric grid.
Monday’s announcement marks the first payments under the Civil Nuclear Credit program law. According to the DOE release, this “supports safe and reliable nuclear power facilities, preserves thousands of high-paying clean energy jobs, and avoids carbon emissions.”
According to the department, the extension of the plant will result in the saving of 1,500 jobs.
According to the department, the program “prioritized reactors that are most at risk of closing,” The second cycle will focus on reactors that are expected to close down in the next four years for economic reasons.
This funding is a win for PG&E as well as Newsom who has pressed for Diablo to remain online to stabilize the state’s power grid.
California’s state legislators voted to keep Diablo open until at least 2030 in a comprehensive climate and clean energy bill that Newsom signed in September. Newsom stated that the limited-term extension to the plant’s license was made to “take advantage of federal support.”
Newsom stated in a press release that the investment “provides an acceleration for more clean-energy projects to come online.”
Newsom stated that California, despite the increasing climate impacts across the West and the country, is focused on meeting its bold climate goals and clean energy goals. However, it also needs to address the problems of extreme weather which puts lives at risk and strains the grid.