California Lands Commission grants key Diablo Canyon approval

The State Lands Commissioners in California has approved an application by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to key leases temporarily through 2025 in a move that should enable the two Diablo Canyon nuclear units to run through the end of their current Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license.

The PG&E Corp. (NYSE:PCG) utility subsidiary announced June 21 that it has agreed with Friends of the Earth (FOE), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and other parties to retire the 2,200-MW-plus of nuclear generation by August 2025. The current license for Unit 1 expires in November 2024 and Unit 2 in August 2025.

The nine-year transition period is meant to help enable PG&E and California to make the move toward more renewables, energy storage and efficiency measures. Many approvals are still needed, however, and one of them was a lease extension from the State Lands Commission without which the company cannot operate Diablo Canyon beyond 2018.

With the unanimous June 28 vote of the California State Lands Commission (SLC), chaired by State Controller Betty T. Yee, California moved one step nearer to closing its last nuclear power plant, Yee said in a statement.

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom (D) is part of the three-member lands commission and he has already endorsed the Diablo Canyon proposal. At the hearing, Chairwoman Yee successfully led the Commission to call on the State Water Resources Control Board to fully implement mitigation measures ensuring compliance with the once-through cooling policy until the end of the Lands Commission lease.

“It is a validation of California’s leadership in renewable energy. I commend the efforts of the parties to this proposal for uniting behind a previously unthinkable solution to a remarkably complex question, and one that goes the extra distance to consider the community and employees connected to Diablo Canyon,” Newsom said in a news release.

Diablo Canyon generates around 9% of California’s annual electricity production and will be replaced exclusively through energy efficiencies and renewable resources under the joint proposal. Furthermore, starting in 2031, PG&E has committed to providing 55% of its total retail sales from renewable energy sources, exceeding the state’s 50% Renewable Portfolio Standard.

The utility had asked the lands commission to replace to existing leases with a new lease that would expire at the same time as the NRC operating license.

PG&E will now embark on a 30-day public comment period before presenting its joint proposal on decommissioning to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at