PG&E to close Diablo Canyon nuclear plant by 2025

22 June 2016

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has outlined plans to close its twin-unit Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California, reflecting the US state's "changing energy landscape". PG&E yesterday announced a 'joint proposal' with labour and leading environmental organizations that would increase investment in energy efficiency, renewables and storage beyond current state mandates while phasing out PG&E's production of nuclear power in California.

PG&E intends to operate the plant to the end of its current operating licenses, which expire on 2 November, 2024 for unit 1, and 26 August, 2025 for unit 2. The company announced its commitment to a 55% renewable energy target in 2031.

PG&E Corporation Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley said: "California's energy landscape is changing dramatically with energy efficiency, renewables and storage being central to the state's energy policy. As we make this transition, Diablo Canyon's full output will no longer be required. As a result, we will not seek to relicense the facility beyond 2025 pending approval of the joint energy proposal."

Contributing factors include, PG&E said, the increase of the Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50% by 2030; doubling of energy efficiency goals; the "challenge of managing over-generation and intermittency conditions under a resource portfolio increasingly influenced by solar and wind production"; the growth rate of distributed energy resources; and potential increases in the "departure of PG&E's retail load customers to Community Choice Aggregation".

The proposal is contingent on a number of important regulatory actions, including approval of a lease extension from the State Lands Commission, without which the company cannot operate Diablo Canyon beyond 2018.

The parties to the proposal are PG&E, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, Coalition of California Utility Employees, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment California and Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.

The Breakthrough Institute has described Diablo Canyon as the "workhorse of California's low-carbon power sector". The organisation noted that the plant's output in 2014 exceeded the electricity produced by the state's wind turbines by 31% and its solar electricity by 24%. Coming on top of the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in 2013, it said the loss of the state's nuclear fleet "would wipe out low-carbon generation equal to the output of California's entire wind, solar, and biomass sectors combined, thus nullifying decades of climate efforts".

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News