Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant will face a key regulatory hurdle Tuesday when a three-person state oversight panel decides whether to renew a lease for the plant’s cooling water system.
The California State Lands Commission is scheduled to consider whether to renew the plant’s lease for its coastline cooling water infrastructure until the plant shuts down in 2025. If the lease is denied, the plant would close in 2018 when the cooling water license expires.
Commission staff is recommending approval.
“Approval of a lease extension from the State Lands Commission is critical to ensure the continued operation of this clean energy facility to 2025,” plant spokesman Blair Jones said. “We are therefore very pleased with the staff recommendation and look forward to the commission meeting on Tuesday.”
The hearing begins at 10 a.m. and will take place at the Holiday Inn Capital Plaza in Sacramento. San Luis Obispo County residents can view the meeting at the Morro Bay Community Center auditorium, which will be equipped with two-way communications so the public can testify from the Morro Bay site.
Tuesday’s hearing comes a week after plant owner PG&E announced it will not seek renewal of the plant’s two operating licenses with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that would have allowed the plant to run until 2045. The agreement to not seek license renewal was reached with a coalition of labor unions and environmental groups.
PG&E Chief Nuclear Officer Ed Halpin said Thursday that a new state law requiring that half of a utility’s electricity must come from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2030 was the main reason the utility decided to shut down the plant by 2025.
Approval of a lease extension from the State Lands Commission is critical to ensure the continued operation of this clean energy facility to 2025.
Blair Jones, Diablo Canyon spokesman
Halpin said Thursday that he is confident the State Lands Commission will grant the new lease. He expects some local residents will be at the meeting to show support for the application.
On Thursday, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted to send a letter to the commission in support of renewing the cooling systems facilities.
In 1969 and 1970, the commission issued two leases to the nuclear plant. One was for the cooling water intake structures and breakwaters; the other was for the plant’s cooling water discharge channel.
Diablo Canyon uses what is known as once-through cooling. Seawater is sucked into the plant from an intake cove and is used to condense steam from the plant’s electrical generators, then it is discharged back into the ocean.
PG&E has applied to combine the two leases into one and renew it until the plant shuts down in 2025. In addition to recommending approval of the lease, commission staff is recommending the lease application does not need an environmental impact report because the license covers existing structures.
“The infrastructure that is the subject of this proposed lease has existed for over 40 years and is considered part of the existing environmental baseline,” a staff report stated.
The State Lands Commission has jurisdiction over the state’s tidal areas and navigable rivers and lakes. It consists of three senior state officials: State Controller Betty T. Yee, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and state Finance Director Michael Cohen.
Because much of the once-through cooling system’s infrastructure sits directly on the coastline, it is subject to the Lands Commission’s jurisdiction.