Biden administration has finalized $1.1 billion in credits dedicated to maintaining the operation of PG&E Corp's (PCG.N) Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California, as announced by the Department of Energy on Wednesday.
The allocated funds are part of the $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit Program, established through the bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021. Aimed at aiding existing nuclear power plants, the program aligns with the administration's commitment to combating climate change and achieving 100% clean electricity by 2035.
Scheduled for 2025, the first payment of awards under the program is designated for Diablo Canyon, California's final nuclear plant. The Energy Department notes that the plant's two reactors contribute 9% of the state's power generation. Originally slated for closure in 2024 and 2025, the extension of Diablo Canyon's operational life underscores its role in ensuring reliable energy for homes and businesses across the country, according to Maria Robinson, Director of the Grid Deployment Office at the Department of Energy.
However, the decision to extend the life of nuclear plants faces opposition, with critics pointing out the lack of a permanent solution for storing toxic, radioactive waste. Environmental group Friends of the Earth has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, challenging the continued operation of Diablo Canyon while the review of its operating license renewal is underway.
The U.S. nuclear power industry has grappled with challenges such as rising safety and material costs, competition with renewable energy sources, and natural gas plants. Since 2012, over a dozen U.S. reactors have shut down, reflecting the complex landscape and considerations surrounding the future of nuclear power in the country.