Bloomberg News

PG&E CEO Expects California Reactor Licenses Will Be Extended

February 24, 2012

Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- PG&E Corp. expects U.S. regulators will grant 20-year license extensions for its California nuclear reactors, after the Fukushima disaster prompted delays and additional seismic test costs.

“I think it will get relicensed,” PG&E Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Earley said in an interview today at the San Francisco bureau of Bloomberg News. Diablo Canyon “needs to get relicensed for the state of California. It’s a great asset.”

PG&E, based in San Francisco, submitted an application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2009 seeking renewal for the two units, whose current licenses expire in 2024 and 2025. The plant, located on the California coast about 160 miles (257 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles, is near two earthquake fault lines.

Last March, an earthquake and resulting tsunami disabled reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi site in Japan, causing the worst nuclear accident since a 1986 meltdown at Chernobyl. PG&E last year requested a delay for its application until new seismic studies of earthquake risks are completed.

The cost to do those studies has tripled from original estimates to more than $60 million because of the expense of studying offshore earthquake risks, Earley said. The U.S. Geological Survey in 2008 discovered a fault line in the waters off the coast of the plant.

PG&E is conducting onshore seismic surveys and is trying to get state environmental approvals for the offshore analysis, Earley said. The company expects California regulators to allow it to recover those costs through customer bills, he said.

Opposition Groups

Several groups, including the Sierra Club and San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, have sought to block or delay relicensing of the reactors because of the plant’s location near the Hosgri and Shoreline faults.

“In terms of safety and security it is not in the public interest to add an additional 20 years to the operating life of the two reactors at Diablo Canyon,” according to the website of Mothers for Peace, a nonprofit group. “The only advantage would be to the corporate profits of PG&E.”

--Editor: Tina Davis

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Chediak in San Francisco at mchediak@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net.


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