A billion down the drain for Diablo


The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant on the California coastline has been granted a $1.1 billion transfusion to keep the aging, uneconomical plant open. The plant, which sits on a major earthquake fault line and has destroyed the indigenous marine environment in Diablo Cove, was scheduled to close its two reactors in 2024 and 2025. 

But, as Stanford professor, Mark Z. Jacobson, tweeted when the bailout announcement was made, it is “A waste of money that will reduce funds for a faster transition to #WindWaterSolar electricity & slow offshore wind development by tying up DC’s transmission, all resulting in more CO2.”

The $1.1 billion came out of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill that set aside $6 billion to support the continued operation of nuclear power plants.

As Beyond Nuclear has shown in its Talking Points series and elsewhere, every dollar spent propping up existing reactors rather than investing in faster, cheaper renewable energy, slows and effectively sabotages progress on reducing carbon emissions.

In fact, operating most existing reactors makes climate change worse compared with spending the same money on more climate-effective ways to deliver the same energy services.

Most US nuclear reactors now cost more just to run – including big repairs that trend upward with age – than their output can earn. They also cost more just to run than providing the same services by building and operating new renewables, or by using electricity more efficiently.

The Diablo bailout is another colossal waste of money, squandered under the guise of mitigating climate change but in reality meeting the needs of an economically foundering nuclear industry desperate to stay relevant.

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