Tracey Adams, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant

DOE Announces Investment to Preserve America’s Clean Nuclear Energy Infrastructure

Nov. 30, 2022
Funding from President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law kicks off multi-phased initiative to ensure grid reliability, continued deployment of the nation’s largest source of clean power, and maintain thousands of good-paying jobs.

The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), announced the conditional selection of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, located near Avila Beach, California, to receive the first round of funding from the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) Program. Funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the US$ 6 billion CNC program supports the continued operations of safe and reliable nuclear energy facilities, preserving thousands of good-paying clean energy jobs while avoiding carbon emissions. As the nation’s largest source of carbon-free power, America’s current fleet of nuclear reactors is a vital resource for achieving the President’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035 and a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.  

“This is a critical step toward ensuring that our domestic nuclear fleet will continue providing reliable and affordable power to Americans as the nation’s largest source of clean electricity,” said Jennifer M. Granholm, U.S. secretary of energy. “Nuclear energy will help us meet President Biden’s climate goals, and with these historic investments in clean energy, we can protect these facilities and the communities they serve.”  

Nuclear power currently provides 50% of the nation’s carbon free electricity but shifting energy markets and other economic factors have already resulted in the early closures of 13 commercial reactors across the United States since 2013. These closures have led to an increase in carbon emissions in those regions, poorer air quality for residents living in the surrounding areas, and the loss of thousands of high-paying jobs. 

Units 1 and 2 at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant were scheduled to be decommissioned in 2024 and 2025, but the conditional award of credits, valued at up to US$ 1.1 billion, creates a path forward for Diablo Canyon to remain open. Final terms are subject to negotiation and finalization by DOE. Owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Diablo Canyon produces approximately 16 GWh of electricity annually, about 15% of the state’s clean energy. The award will save 1500 clean energy jobs. 

“I welcome the news that the Department of Energy has awarded US$ 1.1 billion to help keep the Diablo Canyon Power Plant open. This short-term extension is necessary if California is going to meet its ambitious clean energy goals while continuing to deliver reliable power. I will continue to monitor this process to ensure thorough and rigorous safety and environmental reviews are undertaken at both the federal and state levels,” said Dianne Feinstein (CA), U.S. Senator. 

“In the face of record heat waves and a deepening climate crisis, there is too much at stake for us to move backward in the fight to fully transition California away from polluting fossil fuels. In the pursuit of that goal, our Central Coast community and I have understood the need to explore and support the safe and temporary extension of the lifespan of Diablo Canyon Power Plant,” said Salud Carbajal (CA-24), U.S. representative. “I am happy that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which I helped craft and get signed into law last year, is now providing California this support to maintain grid reliability while pursuing our goal of a net-zero power supply. While there are still remaining safety concerns that need to be addressed, including relicensing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, these funds–when combined with the funds made available by the California Legislature–will help ensure Diablo Canyon can safely continue operations.” 

As urged by the responses received from the public during the comment period earlier this year, the first CNC award cycle prioritized reactors facing the most imminent threat of closure, limiting applications to reactors that had already announced intentions to cease operations due to economic factors. The second CNC award cycle will prioritize reactors that are projected to shut down due to economic factors within the next four years. DOE is expected to begin accepting applications for the second cycle of CNC funding in Jan 2023.  

Learn more about the CNC Program and the upcoming second award cycle.  

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