The proposal would exempt the extension from some environmental rules and would state regulatory agencies to act quickly to clear the way for the facility’s two reactors to continue operating.
The proposal, which would have to be introduced as a bill in the state legislature, is the latest in a series of steps California has made this year to reconsider its 2016 decision to retire the Diablo Canyon power plant by 2025.
Diablo Canyon, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, produces 9% of California’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.
Diablo Canyon-1 and -2 are pressurised water reactor units that began commercial operation in the mid-1980s. They are the only operating commercial reactors in California and both are scheduled to be retired when their current licences expire – in November 2024 for Unit 1 and August 2025 for Unit 2.
Mr Newsom said in May he intended to explore options for continued operation of the facility. Mr Newsom said he would seek federal funding to support nuclear power plants under president Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Mr Newsom’s office said the loan proposals is part of plans as the state seeks to increase its energy security while moving away from fossil fuels. California wants to produce all of its electricity from clean sources by 2045, but has faced challenges with that transition, such as rolling blackouts during a heatwave in 2020.
“The governor supports keeping all options on the table as we build out our plan to ensure reliable energy this summer and beyond,” a spokesperson in his office said. “This includes considering a limited term extension of the Diablo Canyon power station, which continues to be an important resource as we transition away from fossil fuel generation to greater amounts of clean energy.”