This past Monday, the Biden administration unveiled its new plan to shell out well over $1.1 billion in an effort in California to keep its last nuclear power plant up and running.
The Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) is slated to receive a grant of $1.1 billion from the administration in order to help the company maintain the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which sits as the last remaining nuclear power plant in the state. These funds would be taken from the measure regarding infrastructure that was pushed through Congress last year.
“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,” explained Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in a release.
Originally, the plant was slated to be officially closed down over the course of 2024 and 2025, but state lawmakers carried out a vote this past September in which they chose to keep it open and running for an extra five years. Recently, Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom has quickly changed tunes to stand in favor of not shutting down the nuclear power plant and put forth his own plan for an extension of the power plant just this year.
California has been forced to struggle due to its attempts to quickly transition over to more renewable energy sources as the state was afflicted with rolling energy deficit blackouts back in August of 2020. This year, however, another massive heat wave slammed the area and the state requested that its residents drop their energy usage across various times of the day in order to keep up the electric grid.
At an earlier point this year, the state managed to shift over to 100% renewable energy, but the sources of said energy, like solar and wind, are not anywhere near as reliable as the standard fossil fuels and have only ended up putting the state in a worrisome position because of the long stints of high temperatures. Back in 2021, nuclear power accounted for roughly 10% of the state’s total electricity. Of that, Diablo Canyon put out more than 8% with the rest being imported from Arizona and Washington.
Back in April, the Biden admin kicked off a program that is expected to assist financially struggling nuclear power plants across the country with $6 billion. The new plan was fully funded by the recent massive infrastructure legislation.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Energy claimed that the funds slated for Diablo will be issued in payments over the course of four years. The remaining details regarding the grant are still being hammered out with the company.