California to request federal nuclear plant rescue funds, report says

California Governor Gavin Newsom delivers remarks as he tours the U.S. Forest Service’s Del Rosa Fire Station with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in San Bernardino, California, U.S., January 21, 2022. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

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April 29 (Reuters) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom said his state would apply for a portion of new federal funds aimed at propping up nuclear power plants that are scheduled to close, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times on Friday.

The move could extend the operating life of the state’s last remaining nuclear power plant, the Diablo Canyon facility owned by PG&E Corp (PCG.N).

A spokesperson for Newsom did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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“We would be remiss not to put that on the table as an option,” Newsom told the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board on Thursday, according to the report.

He was speaking about the Biden administration’s $6 billion program, unveiled this month, to help nuclear power plants stay open. Applications for the first round of funding must be submitted by May 19. read more

Diablo Canyon’s reactors are scheduled to shut down in 2024 and 2025, removing 2,256 megawatts of the state’s carbon-free power capacity. The plant provided 8.5% of California’s overall power needs in 2020.

PG&E, which said last week that it was following the energy policies of the state with respect to Diablo Canyon’s closure, said in a statement on Friday that it was “always open to considering all options to ensure continued safe, reliable, and clean energy delivery to our customers.”

The utility has discussed the plant’s eligibility for the funding with the state, but has not been directed to pursue it, according to spokesperson Lynsey Paulo.

California has a goal of producing all of its electricity from clean sources by 2045, but has faced challenges with its transition away from fossil fuels, including rolling blackouts during a summer heat wave in 2020.

Most recently, Newsom this week warned that 4,350 megawatts of planned solar energy and battery storage capacity that the state is relying on may be delayed due to a Commerce Department investigation that could result in steep tariffs on imports of solar panels.

“Delays and interruptions of this magnitude hinder our efforts to combat climate change and threaten our ability to maintain energy reliability,” Newsom said in a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Thursday, urging a prompt resolution to the probe.

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Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Kevin Liffey

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