Regulator Ups Diablo’s Relicensing Ante

By Published On: February 28, 2014

California Public Utilities Commission president Mike Peevey delivered a shot over Pacific Gas & Electric’s nuclear power bow when he wrote the utility that before seeking ratepayer funding for relicensing Diablo, it is “imperative” PG&E provides detailed seismic and other information to regulators. The letter was welcome news to anti-nuclear advocates. Peevey’s letter should serve as a warning to both PG&E ratepayers and shareholders,” John Geesman, attorney for the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, told the commission Feb. 27. “Nobody wants to stumble into a money trap without a full assessment of the costs,” he said. PG&E is reviewing the letter, said Blair Jones, PG&E spokesperson. Regulators halted a utility request to spend $85 million pursuing relicensing Feb. 1, 2012. But, that decision left the door open for PG&E to pursue it again in 2015. The primary request from Peevey’s Feb. 19 letter could present a Catch-22. It calls for reporting 3-D seismic studies. While some 3-D “low-energy” studies were completed, “high-energy” 3-D data gathering was ultimately negated by the state Coastal Commission because of potential harm to marine life (Current, Nov. 16, 2012). Thus, fully satisfying the request may be thwarted. PG&E is expected to turn over what testing data it has to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in June, Blair said. Peevey’s other requirements include: * Applying lessons learned from the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, Daiichi to the earthquake-prone Diablo site; * Reassessing access road adequacy for evacuation purposes; * Considering adequate liability coverage in the event of a major radioactive release; and * Evaluating the integrity of the spent fuel pools in case of earthquake-related stress. The utility’s plan to relicense Diablo was pushed back four years by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on June 7, 2011. The utility said, at the time, it is not actively pursuing relicensing. The federal agency, meanwhile, still has an active case open for potential relicensing.

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now