California's Last Nuclear Power Plant to be Shutdown


Mar 23, 2022

Researchers at Stanford and (MIT) say that keeping the Diablo Canyon reactor open would be crucial to California’s climate goals.

California’s last nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon is poised to shut down. This news, coming after similar reactor shutdowns in Connecticut, New York, South Carolina, and other states is foreboding for the US electrical grid, which generates a fifth of its electricity from nuclear power.

The Diablo Canyon currently generates around 8% of California’s in-state electricity and 15% of its carbon-free power. Utility PG&E allowed the licenses for the two power reactors in Diablo Canyon to expire amidst growing public concern for nuclear waste, earthquakes, and the use of seawater to cool the power plant. U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm has, however, strongly advised that this decision should be reconsidered. Researchers at Stanford and (MIT) also agreed that the Diablo Canyon reactor staying open would be crucial to California’s climate goals. They concluded that delaying the closure of the plant to 2025 would reduce California's carbon emissions from power plants by more than 10% from 2017 levels, reduce dependency on natural gas, and save up to $21 billion in power system costs.

It would additionally spare 90,000 acres of land, which otherwise would need to be allocated to energy production to compensate for the loss of nuclear power. Safe alternatives for nuclear waste disposal like deep geological disposal are available and the nuclear facility has been designed with powerful seismic protection. So it would seem that the benefits to retaining the plant far outweigh the public concerns.

The dream of a carbon-neutral future can only be realized when all alternatives like nuclear power, other renewables and energy efficiency are given their true weight and not vaguely dismissed.

FORCE drives energy efficiency, helps make the electrical grid more robust, and cuts down power system costs. It broadens the possibility of a carbon-neutral future.