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California Isn't Prepared to Replace Diablo Canyon Energy

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Bob Meinetz's picture
Nuclear Power Policy Activist, Independent

I am a passionate advocate for the environment and nuclear energy. With the threat of climate change, I’ve embarked on a mission to help overcome the fears of nuclear energy. I’ve been active in...

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  • Apr 8, 2021

"Regulators have had years to plan for the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant; the wind-down of the last of the Korean War-era coastal gas power plants; and the rapid closure of coal power plants in Western states that previously supplied imports to California.

But despite the evidence that investing in renewables is the most cost-effective solution, there has been a distinct and inexplicable failure by the CPUC to do so.

This is all the more concerning given that a new California Energy Commission analysis finds that California will need to move three times faster in building out solar and wind resources and eight times faster in adding new battery storage to meet California’s 100% clean energy target.

Now time is running out. A recent analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists finds that without urgent action, California’s cumulative climate-warming emissions from the electricity sector will be 15.5 million metric tons higher over the next decade as a result of the closure of Diablo Canyon."


Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Apr 9, 2021

Curious Bob... do you know why Diablo has been running at half capacity since November 2020? 

I'm having a hard time finding much info on this... seems like this is not being reported and/or nobody has noticed.

Hope that PG&E gets it up to full capacity by summer but based on PG&E performance lately - I'm not optimistic.

Below is CAISO chart from yesterday - note the Nuclear gen down around 1,000 MW vs the expected 2,000 MW.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Apr 9, 2021

Unit #2 is down. It was first taken offline last July due to increased main generator hydrogen usage:

“We identified an area in the Unit 2 main generator system where hydrogen (used for cooling the electrical generator) was escaping,” Susanne Hosn, utility spokesperson, stated in an email to Current. She added that back in July repairs were done, “inspections were conducted, and the unit was returned to service.”

When hydrogen was discovered leaking in October they took Unit #2 offline again, and traced the cause of the leak to a worn generator stator:

"During an Oct. 23, 2020 Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee meeting, a PG&E representative said the “significant” investment to replace the stator was needed to keep the plant from being forced offline, although it will be permanently shut down in 2025.  'It is the right thing to do, even with a limited life span,' he said."

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on Apr 10, 2021

Thanks for the info Bob.

I did some more digging as well... it looks like the unit came back online for a few days at the end of November

Diablo Canyon Power Plant operators returned the Unit 2 reactor to 100% power over the weekend after it was shut down for maintenance work on the electrical generator, located on the non-nuclear side of the plant.

Unit 2, which had been offline since Oct, 15, reached 100% power Saturday, said a spokeswoman for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Unit 1 continued operating at full power throughout the Unit 2 shutdown.

You can see the generation in CAISO data for 11/30 here.

I can't find anything on why it went back offline. 

Note: it also appears to have been back online again between Jan 15,2021 and Feb 3,2021 before going back off-line again.

Peculiar. Not really needed on a day like today when CAISO is exporting solar but definitely needed come July-Sep.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Apr 12, 2021

The concept of “rational” is a nearly extinct animal in California. 
My hunch is the demise of Diablo Canyon is primarily the removal of competition from the California grid, thus enabling the green energy mafia to extort even more money from the hapless citizens of California. If the government of California was actually worried about CO2 emissions, the plant would continue running. Obviously, the green energy mafia controls the government of California, with the politicians happily receiving re-election cash from the mafia.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Thank Bob for the Post!
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