Rep. Carbajal, Biden-Harris Administration Announce Investment in Diablo Canyon Power Plant from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Today, Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and the Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), announced the conditional selection of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, located near Avila Beach, California, to receive the first round of funding from the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program.

“In the face of record heat waves and a deepening climate crisis, there is too much at stake for us to move backward in the fight to fully transition California away from polluting fossil fuels. In the pursuit of that goal, our Central Coast community and I have understood the need to explore and support the safe and temporary extension of the lifespan of Diablo Canyon Power Plant,” said Rep. Carbajal. “I am happy that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which I helped craft and get signed into law last year, is now providing California this support to maintain grid reliability while pursuing our goal of a net-zero power supply. While there are still remaining safety concerns that need to be addressed, including relicensing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, these funds–when combined with the funds made available by the California Legislature–will help ensure Diablo Canyon can safely continue operations until our first-in-the-West offshore wind projects are ready to take its place at the end of this decade.”

“This is a critical step toward ensuring that our domestic nuclear fleet will continue providing reliable and affordable power to Americans as the nation’s largest source of clean electricity,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Nuclear energy will help us meet President Biden’s climate goals, and with these historic investments in clean energy, we can protect these facilities and the communities they serve.”  

Units 1 and 2 at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant were scheduled to be decommissioned in 2024 and 2025, but today’s conditional award of credits valued at up to $1.1 billion, creates a path forward for Diablo Canyon to remain open. Final terms of the credits are subject to negotiation and finalization by DOE.

Throughout this year, Congressman Carbajal has repeatedly emphasized that any temporary extension of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant must be made with consistent Central Coast community input, clear communication on the safety concerns associated with extending the power plant, and that any extension would not interfere with the creation of the West Coast’s first offshore wind projects over the next five years.

Congressman Carbajal’s prior statements on Diablo Canyon can be found here and here.

The award is funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Carbajal helped craft and get signed into law last year as a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

“I welcome the news that the Department of Energy has awarded $1.1 billion to help keep the Diablo Canyon Power Plant open. This short-term extension is necessary if California is going to meet its ambitious clean energy goals while continuing to deliver reliable power. I will continue to monitor this process to ensure thorough and rigorous safety and environmental reviews are undertaken at both the federal and state levels,” said U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (CA).  

More information from the U.S. Department of Energy:

Owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Diablo Canyon produces approximately 16 GWh of electricity annually, about 15% of the state’s clean energy. The award will save 1,500 clean energy jobs.  

Nuclear power currently provides 50% of the nation’s carbon free electricity but shifting energy markets and other economic factors have already resulted in the early closures of 13 commercial reactors across the United States since 2013. These closures have led to an increase in carbon emissions in those regions, poorer air quality for residents living in the surrounding areas, and the loss of thousands of high-paying jobs. 

As urged by the responses received from the public during the comment period earlier this year, the first CNC award cycle prioritized reactors facing the most imminent threat of closure, limiting applications to reactors that had already announced intentions to cease operations due to economic factors. The second CNC award cycle will prioritize reactors that are projected to shut down due to economic factors within the next four years. DOE is expected to begin accepting applications for the second cycle of CNC funding in January 2023.  

Learn more about the CNC Program and the upcoming second award cycle.

More information on today’s announcement can be found here.  

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