California state laws currently don’t qualify all carbon-free emissions as “renewable” under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), such as large hydro or nuclear power. As a result, nuclear power can’t be counted towards the state’s emissions goals. This new bill would qualify both hydro and nuclear energy as a renewable energy sources and assemblyman Jordan Cunningham claims that this would create equal opportunity in the renewable energy market.
Cunningham argues that “basic principles of fairness demand that we count all carbon-free power — including nuclear and large hydro — towards our climate goals. Furthermore, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible for the state to meet its 2030 and 2045 climate goals without counting nuclear and large hydro. Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, the only operational nuclear plant in California, currently produces nine percent of the state’s power without any carbon emissions — but it is slated for closure in 2025. Without Diablo’s power production, there is no viable path to a statewide carbon-free energy grid, yet, because of SB 100, the state would allow for Diablo’s power to qualify for inclusion as “clean energy,” but only after it has closed down, which makes no sense.
Cunningham’s bill explains that that hydro and advanced nuclear must play a primary role in decarbonizing our energy. Additionally, Diablo Canyon could stay open past its 2025 closing date if nuclear is counted as a part of the state’s renewable energy goals.