PG&E to seek license renewals at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is expected to make the ‘major announcement’ regarding two reactors at Diablo Canyon at a news conference today

sconnell@thetribunenews.comNovember 23, 2009 

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is expected to announce today that it will seek renewal of its two operating licenses at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The licenses are for the two reactors at the plant. One license is set to expire in 2024, and the other in 2025.

The company on Monday only stated it will be a “major announcement regarding the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, which provides low cost, carbon-free electricity to more than 3 million Northern and Central California homes.” Spokesman Kory Raftery would not expand on the statement.

Two public officials who deal with tax assessments, county schools Superintendent Julian Crocker and county Tax Assessor Tom Bordonaro, are expected at the PG&E event.

Crocker said the news conference is about relicensing. He will be present to state that the company pays $15 million in property taxes annually to kindergarten-through-12th-grade schools and Cuesta College, and that amount would increase with relicensing because the plant would go up in value.

Much of that money goes to either the San Luis Coastal Unified School District or Cuesta College.

“My part is the school part,” he said. “My assumption is that upon relicensing the property taxes would be more.”

David Weisman, outreach coordinator for the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, said he believes PG&E is trying to speed up the process to avoid some of the studies that have been suggested by state legislators and regulators.

He said his anti-nuclear organization was disappointed that PG&E had “chosen to lie to the California Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Commission in their previous and recent statements that they were still engaged in a license renewal feasibility study.”

He said that both state agencies are trying to complete reviews on whether relicensing is in the best interest of ratepayers. He said by applying for federal relicensing, PG&E can remove some of the influence that California has over the process.

Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, also proposed legislation that was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in mid-October that would have required a full mapping of a recently discovered earthquake fault near Diablo.

Schwarzenegger called the bill unnecessary because of previous legislation he believed would accomplish the same thing.

As recently as late October, PG&E officials said they had not made a decision about whether to apply for license renewal with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Such applications for renewal appear to be standard industry practice, however, and the state Public Utilities Commission had given the energy provider until June 2011 to make a decision on what can be a multiyear process.

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