The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in San Luis Obispo County is the state’s largest electricity generator and will be difficult to replace, even with an increase in renewables.
Pacific Gas and Electric owns it and says it would consider all options.
PG&E planned to close the plant once the reactor licenses expired as part of an agreement with unions, environmental groups and nuclear stakeholders.
Newsom has no direct authority over the license to operate the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, but floated the idea that PG&E could seek a share of $6 billion in federal funding that the Biden administration has established to save nuclear power plants are in danger of closing.
Any proposal to extend plant life is certain to reignite a broad battle over plant safety and would involve complex reviews by an array of state and federal agencies.
The issues at play in Diablo Canyon range from a long-running debate over the structures’ ability to withstand earthquakes – a rift extends 650 yards (594 yards) from the reactors – to the possibility that PG&E could be ordered by state regulators to spend potentially billions of dollars to modify or replace the plant’s cooling system, which sucks water from the ocean and has been accused of killing fish and other marine life .
The plant’s ability to store additional spent fuel from the reactors is also unclear. Highly radioactive waste is stored in nuclear power plants, as the country does not have a long-term disposal site.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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