SAN FRANCISCO -- Conventional wisdom says California is a lousy place to bet on new nuclear power. In Berkeley, the city government won't buy services of any kind from a company that refuses to sign a "nuclear free" disclosure. In Sacramento, a moratorium against new reactor construction has held since 1976. And statewide, energy developers have a hard enough time securing permits for massive power plants run by renewable energy, much less finding enough political daylight to launch a multibillion-dollar nuclear project. The reality is California has become a kind of a nuclear junkyard, with reactors in Rancho Seco, San Onofre and Humboldt County shuttered before their prime over the past three decades, as momentum behind discontinuing the power source persisted in the wake of the 1976 ban. Today, two nuclear stations are operating in a state nearing 40 million residents. But an outsider is challenging conventional thought.