Diablo Canyon nuclear plant navigates post-extension hurdles

By Wes Venteicher | 03/07/2024 06:21 AM EST

The California Coastal Commission is scrutinizing Pacific Gas and Electric’s plan to dredge around the plant, and environmental groups are raising seismic concerns.

Aerial view of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County, California.

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County, California, is pictured in 2011. Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

SACRAMENTO, California — Pacific Gas & Electric is facing obstacles on two fronts to its plans to extend operations at the state’s last nuclear power plant.

What happened: The California Coastal Commission is investigating PG&E for clearing debris from Diablo Canyon Power Plant’s water intake structure without a permit, according to an agenda for the commission’s meeting next week.

What else: Environmental groups filed an objection Tuesday to PG&E’s application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to extend the plant’s life, arguing that a recent earthquake in Japan raises new concerns about the potential for a big one near Diablo.


Why it matters: PG&E is taking steps to keep California’s last nuclear plant open until 2030, five years longer than expected, after state lawmakers decided two years ago that California needed the plant to keep the lights on as it transitions to carbon-free power. The NRC is considering PG&E’s application to keep the plant going for up to 20 more years.