Biden gives PG&E $1 billion to keep the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant open
President Barack Obama said Wednesday, “I think there’s an incredible opportunity right here in California to do more to protect our communities from the kind of catastrophic risks that were revealed this week with the magnitude of the earthquake and the fire.”
Gov. Jerry Brown has called a special session of the Legislature to address the crisis as soon as Thursday morning. A vote on a bill to approve PG&E’s $1 billion relief plan is expected later Wednesday.
The Senate voted 50-42 to approve a $1 billion loan to the utility to buy equipment the utility needs to continue operating the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The Senate’s only vote against the measure was cast by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who said it was unfair to ask PG&E to shoulder the entire cost of keeping the plant in operation.
The Democratic-controlled Legislature gave PG&E $1 billion in January to buy essential maintenance equipment to keep the plant running. The money comes from an emergency aid package approved in December.
The loan was contingent on legislative approval.
In a statement, Brown said his team “has asked that the Legislature extend an extension to the emergency order to give us more time, but we realize that the Legislature, which will be discussing this measure in the coming weeks, will need to answer our concerns.”
The California Public Utilities Commission voted Wednesday to extend the state’s emergency order through May 31, when the state needs a replacement source of power.
Brown is scheduled to hold a news conference later Wednesday where he’ll call for a special session of the Legislature to pass the loan and then hold a vote on the measure. A date for those special meetings has yet to be set.
Opposition to the loan appeared to be overwhelming. On the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, shouted to colleagues that they were voting to “give the plant’s owner a $1 billion bailout.”
The Senate vote brought an immediate reversal of PG&E’s earlier plan to replace the plant without borrowing money. It had come to a standstill Thursday after Democrats warned that approving the emergency loan and keeping the plant running would be tantamount to a bailout for the company.
“It is a disaster for the people of San Francisco and Northern California. But it is also a disaster for the state of California because the utility