California shuts down last nuclear power plant


The Los Angeles Times noted that California’s only remaining nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County, will be retired when its operating licences expire.

[quote] In 1971, a seismic fault, the Hosgri fault, was discovered only three miles offshore from the plant’s location in 1971.

There was much concern surrounding the plant’s vulnerability to seismic activity intensified after disaster struck the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.

The Fukushima disaster was partly responsible for the decline of nuclear power in many countries, including the United States. The New York Times added that reduced electric demand and cheap natural gas prices played a role in sending the nuclear power industry into a crises.

Anthony Earley, PG&E’s chief executive, told the media that state energy policies ensured that there won’t be sufficient need to have to run the nuclear power plant. [Round up: digital utilities, deregulation and RE transmission]

The nuclear power plant produces approximately 2,160 megawatts of energy that has the potential to power 1.7 million homes. The energy currently produced by the Diablo Canyon plant is used in Central and Northern California.

Controversy continues around the plant’s closure

The announcement of the plant’s closure has given rise to further controversy. Reports state that environmental groups have long protested Diablo Canyon.

Some are of the opinion that nuclear power plants present the only current source of low-carbon electricity that can be built anywhere.

The concern is that the low-carbon nuclear energy will be replaced with greenhouse-gas-producing forms of power generation.

PG&E has proposed to make up for the deficit through renewables including solar and wind, as well as improvements in energy efficiency and storage.

Ralph Cavanagh, who co-directs the energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council and acted as lead negotiator on the Diablo Canyon agreement told the New York Times,”Giant baseload nuclear power plants like Diablo Canyon cannot easily be taken offline, or ramped up and down, as system needs change.

“This worsening problem is forcing the California grid operator to shut down low-cost renewable generation that could otherwise be used productively.”


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