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Diablo steam generator replacement project approved

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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has given final approval to PG&E to proceed with a steam generator replacement project at its Diablo Canyon Power Plant. In all, PG&E will replace eight steam generators (four for each reactor), which each weigh 800,000 pounds and are 65 feet high.

The CPUC’s final approval comes after a fiscal approval earlier this year, and the completion of an environmental impact report citing no significant environmental impact from the plan. The project will cost $706 million, and ratepayers will be charged a 2 percent increase in 2008 at the start of the project.

Jeff Lewis, spokesman for PG&E, said the generators will be brought in by barge directly to the power plant. Officials expect the giant metal cylinders to arrive in a year. Then, in 2008, during routine refueling, PG&E will replace the generators. Lewis said the refueling, which happens every 19 months, takes about a month to complete. Replacing the steam generators will add about another month onto that process.

Without replacing the steam generators, Diablo would have had to close down in 2013 or 2014. The new steam generators are expected to last through the plant’s licensing period, which ends in 2025, said Lewis.

PG&E has not decided if it will apply to re-license the nuclear facility past 2025. That decision will likely be made in the next three years, he said.

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