Facing increasing market challenges and national regulation, California will shut down its last nuclear power plant by the time its licenses expire in 2025.
The Diablo Canyon twin-reactor facility, located between Los Angeles and San Francisco, has been in operation for 31 years and supplies approximately 9% of California’s power. Support to close the plant is a result of competition from alternative energy sources such as natural gas and renewables, as well as escalating costs of the facility’s operation. Pacific Gas & Electric Company President Tony Earley cited California’s growing efficiency and emergent use of renewables as part of the final decision to close Diablo Canyon’s doors, adding that “there’s just not going to be enough need to have to run your nuclear plant.”
Additional concerns surrounding the Diablo Canyon facility come from its close proximity to seismic faults. The plant’s precarious location, as well as a lack of space to store nuclear waste, lends credence to arguments regarding the potential safety risks of nuclear power. These risks have compounded with strict regulatory requirements and dwindling bottom lines to seal the same fate for Diablo Canyon as met by many facilities throughout the nuclear power industry.
Diablo Canyon’s closing falls in line with a growing national trend. Four nuclear facilities have shut down in recent years, and five more will close around the country between 2017 and 2019. According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), operating certain nuclear facilities does not make economic sense due to exceedingly high repair costs compared to the relatively cheap use of renewables. Despite these closings, the NEI still sees a future for nuclear energy, claiming that for the rest of the country, “nuclear energy is a vital part of a balanced energy portfolio.” There may well still be a future for nuclear power – as it continues to generate roughly 19.5% of the nation’s electricity – but the closing of the Diablo Canyon facility is a strong signal of the challenges facing nuclear energy in this country.
Read more here- “Last California Plant to Close as Nuclear Power Struggles,” (Ellen Knickmeyer, Associated Press)