The U.S. Department of Energy has conditionally approved $1.1 billion in credits to keep open Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
In a statement Nov. 21, DOE officials said the final terms of their decision to steer the Civil Nuclear Credit Program funding to Diablo Canyon still need to be negotiated but will help save 1,500 jobs at the plant in San Luis Obispo County. Citing rising fuel costs, PG&E leaders had been planning to close Diablo Canyon, which generates 17% of California’s clean energy and nearly 9% of its total energy, by 2025 but earlier this year kept the door open to reversing that decision if lawmakers could pledge support.
The first phase of that came from California legislators, who in October approved a loan of up to $1.4 billion to keep the plant active for five more years. State officials also pushed PG&E to apply for federal funding to help it pay back that loan.
“This is another very positive step forward to extend the operating life of Diablo Canyon,” PG&E CEO Patti Poppe said in a statement. “While there are key federal and state approvals remaining before us in this multi-year process, we remain focused on continuing to provide reliable, low-cost, carbon-free energy to the people of California.”
DOE officials noted in their statement that 13 commercial nuclear reactor have closed across the country since 2013. Nuclear energy, they added, now provides half of the U.S.’s carbon-free electricity.
Shares of PG&E’s parent company (Ticker: PCG) were down slightly to $14.99 in afternoon trading Nov. 21. Over the past six months, they have risen 25%, growing the company’s market capitalization to nearly $30 billion.