State regulators have agreed with a Dec. 21 decision by a San Francisco-based administrative law judge to deny Pacific Gas & Electric’s request to use $85 million in customer revenues to relicense the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
On Feb. 1, the California Public Utilities Commission concurred with administrative Judge Robert Barnett’s decision that the utility’s application for license renewal shouldn’t even be considered until long-awaited seismic studies for the region around the plant are completed.
The CPUC’s five commissioners could have overturned Barnett’s ruling.
PG&E argued that dismissing the funding application outright wasn’t necessary, that the utility was completing the studies, and that dismissing the application would require them to start the process from square one after the studies are finished and peer reviewed.
The company recently wrapped up the first of three phases of seismic studies. The next step—the 3-D “high energy” phase—is expected to be completed by the end of 2012, if all necessary offshore permits are obtained within the expected timelines. All three phases are scheduled to be complete by 2014.
“[The decision] signals that the [CPUC] is finally stepping up to protect California residents from future tragedies like San Bruno,” Rochelle Becker, director of the ratepayer advocacy group, the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility and a petitioner in the proceedings, said in a press release.
Current licenses for Diablo Canyon’s two reactors are set to expire in 2024 and 2025.