Lands Commission approves new lease for Diablo Canyon
June 29, 2016
The three-member California State Lands Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a new lease for the cooling system at Diablo Canyon power plant. The decision will likely allow PG&E to keep operating the nuclear power plant until 2025.
Last week, PG&E announced it struck a deal with labor and environmental groups to shut down the reactors at Diablo Canyon when their licenses expire in 2024 and 2025. Despite agreeing to shut down the nuclear plant, PG&E was still faced with the possibility of closure as early as 2018.
PG&E’s tidelands leases for the water intake and discharge units of the power plant’s cooling system were set to expire in Aug. 2018 and May 2019. The cooling system sucks in water from the ocean and then returns it. The system is needed in order to keep the plant operating.
On Tuesday, the Lands Commission approved a new lease for the entire cooling system, which expires at the time PG&E plans to shut down the nuclear plant in 2025. The commission also decided an environmental impact report was not needed before approving the lease extension.
State officials held the Lands Commission meeting in Sacramento but broadcasted it live at the Morro Bay Community Center. More than 100 people attended the meeting at the Morro Bay site, and the commission listened to several hours of testimony from public speakers at both locations.
Last December, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, one of the members of the Lands Commission, called for there to be a full environmental review before making a decison on the lease extension. Newsom changed his stance in the aftermath of PG&E’s agreement to close Diablo Canyon by 2025.
On Tuesday, Newsom said more time is needed to plan for the closure of Diablo Canyon. He said San Onofre nuclear power plant shut down too abruptly in 2012.
Some local officials, including Sheriff Ian Parkinson, said they needed more time to prepare for the budget losses that will occur as a result of Diablo Canyon closing.
Many environmentalists still insisted on the immediate shutdown of the nuclear plant. Critics of Diablo Canyon also opposed the lease extension on the grounds that the cooling system kills sea life.