Opinion » Letters

A workhorse failure


Regarding your cover story about Diablo Canyon ("Changed habitat," Dec. 17), and without diminishing the marine impacts of once-through cooling, what is also being flushed "down the drain" by PG&E is nearly $100 million in ratepayer funds for their failed repair of Diablo's Unit 2 main generator. As ratepayer advocates, the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility opposed this as too costly considering the barely five years of life left in the plant.

It took 60 days of down time for the initial work in the fourth quarter of 2019. In 2020, the rebuilt generator was shut down three times for hydrogen leaks—the same problem the costly repairs were supposed to remedy—and has been offline for 84 days (as of Dec. 21). If not restarted by year-end, it will have been down more than 90 days, a 75 percent operational rate for 2020. If Unit 2 were the 24/7 workhorse we pay for, it shouldn't call in sick one day out of four. The California Public Utilities Commission approved reimbursement for the repairs earlier this month, ironically during a commission meeting the morning after the generator had once again failed.

SLO County needs to pay attention to this unsettling parallel with the scenario that shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Plant in 2013, well in advance of its license expiration: putting expensive new parts in an old plant but failing due to leakage within one year. PG&E's electric rates are increasing again during financially stressful times, and regulators may have a hard time throwing more good money after bad. People should remember that no nuclear plant in California has ever operated to the end of its initial Nuclear Regulatory Commission license.

David Weisman

Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility

San Luis Obispo

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