California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a last-minute draft bill to extend the life of the nuclear Diablo Canyon Power Plant — a move that has upset part of his base supporters.
Newsom asked state lawmakers to extend Diablo's operations to 2035, a decade beyond its planned shutdown date, in an effort to protect a grid threatened by extreme heat, the Washington Examiner reported.
The governor late last week also requested that a $1.4 billion loan to the plant's owner, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E), be approved.
The Examiner said the proposed legislation must be passed by lawmakers in both the California Assembly and Senate by Aug. 31, the deadline for the California State Legislature to pass a bill and send it to the governor's desk.
"In the face of extreme heat, wildfires, and other extreme events that strain our current electrical system, the state is focused on maintaining energy reliability while accelerating efforts to combat climate change," Newsom's office said in an email Monday, the Examiner reported.
Besides lawmakers, the extension and loan must be approved by California's Department of Water Resources.
The potential extension of Diablo, located in San Luis Obispo County, has sparked intense opposition from dozens of environmental and anti-nuclear groups.
The San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, the Oregon Conservancy Foundation, the Snake River Alliance, and the Ohio Nuclear Free Network, sent a letter to Newsom earlier this year citing concerns that included the nuclear plant's age and its proximity to earthquake faults.
"Diablo Canyon is dangerous, dirty and expensive," the groups wrote, the Examiner reported. "It must retire as planned."
They added that the proposed extension was an "outrage."
The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant supplies roughly 17% of California's greenhouse-gas-free electricity and 8.6% of the state's total electricity.
The state's electric grid has been strained by heat and wildfires, among other events.
"[Diablo Canyon] continues to be an important resource as we transition away from fossil fuel generation to greater amounts of clean energy, with the goal of achieving 100 percent clean electric retail sales by 2045," Newsom's statement read, the Examiner reported.
The Brattle Group published a report earlier this summer that found keeping Diablo online could help California decarbonize "more quickly, more reliably, and at a lower cost," approximately $5 billion less, than if the plant shut down in 2025.
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