Nuclear Operations

Total annual economic impact of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara Counties

For nearly 30 years, Diablo Canyon Power Plant has been a safe and vital energy resource for California and a significant economic engine for the Central Coast. The plant generates more than 20 percent of the electricity used by PG&E’s customers each year, meeting the needs of more than 3 million people. In addition, as a major employer and buyer of goods and services, Diablo Canyon and the employees who work there are an integral part of the San Luis Obispo community and the Central Coast economy.

Our Approach

Since operation began at Diablo Canyon in 1985, PG&E has invested more than $1 billion on significant upgrades and the plant has continually been a top performer in the industry. In fact, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) 2013 assessment of Diablo Canyon continued to find that PG&E is operating the facility safely and is meeting all of the federal regulator’s safety and security performance objectives.

Commitment to Seismic Safety

Extensive scientific research performed in the area surrounding Diablo Canyon demonstrates the facility remains seismically safe and able to withstand the largest potential earthquakes in the region. This was the main finding in a report PG&E submitted to the NRC in September 2014. The report was also presented to the CPUC Independent Peer Review Panel, an advisory task-force that reviewed how the advanced seismic studies would be performed and provided insight and comments to PG&E’s researchers.

These studies have given PG&E, as well as scientists and regulators, an unprecedented view into the Earth’s crust that significantly and fundamentally increases understanding of the seismic characteristics near Diablo Canyon.

In addition to providing the research to federal and state oversight bodies, PG&E is also sharing the information with local public agencies. They will be able to incorporate the information into their respective emergency preparedness plans and in safety evaluations of critical infrastructure.

PG&E will also use the data to support its Long-Term Seismic Program, comprised of a geosciences team of professionals who partner with independent seismic experts on an ongoing basis to evaluate regional geology and global seismic events to ensure the facility remains safe.

The research will also support a new, NRC-mandated seismic hazard re-evaluation that is being required for all U.S. commercial nuclear power plants. Under this process at Diablo Canyon, existing and new seismic information is being peer-reviewed and publically evaluated by independent experts as part of the NRC-required Senior Seismic Hazard Analysis Committee process.

Used Fuel Storage

At both Diablo Canyon and a former nuclear unit at Humboldt Bay Power Plant, PG&E safely stores used fuel in on-site dry cask storage systems approved and licensed by the NRC. Diablo Canyon also safely and securely stores spent fuel in wet storage facilities. These on-site storage systems are used at nuclear power plants across the world and protect the used fuel against a range of threats, including severe weather, earthquakes and terrorism.

These two federally monitored on-site interim storage methods are safe and effective, and follow industry best standards. The ability to store spent fuel safely on-site, however, should not be a long-term alternative to the federal government assuming its responsibility to accept the fuel for permanent storage. To that end, PG&E will continue to advocate that the federal government meet its commitment and take charge of managing the nation’s spent fuel.

Water Management

PG&E actively manages the water used in the electricity-generating process in accordance with the water discharge limit set by the facility’s Clean Water Act permit.

2013 Milestones

In a typical year, at least one of Diablo Canyon’s two reactor units undergoes a planned refueling and maintenance outage. Once every five years, both units are refueled in the same year due to their separate operating schedules. Planned refueling outages at Diablo Canyon bring significant economic benefits to the region as almost 1,000 additional contract workers are hired.

In 2013, we completed a planned outage to refuel Unit 2 and perform scheduled maintenance. With about 30 projects completed in addition to standard maintenance, this outage was among the most successful in the plant’s history. In all, workers conducted about one million hours of inspections, maintenance and equipment upgrades.

In addition, PG&E and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department launched a new public awareness campaign designed to make the region one of the most emergency-prepared counties in the nation. With support from PG&E, a local task force is working to raise public awareness and increase collaboration and communication between agencies within the county, with the goal of improving disaster preparedness and response.

PG&E also continued decommissioning the former nuclear unit at Humboldt Bay Power Plant. PG&E has completed removal of prior operational nuclear systems and equipment, and we are moving toward the next phase where structures will be demolished and removed from the site. Final site restoration and remediation plans have been submitted to the NRC, and are in the final review and comment phase.

Supporting the Local Community

Our Diablo Canyon employees volunteer thousands of hours through educational, environmental and other local community projects that benefit the region. They also contribute financially to nonprofit organizations through PG&E’s annual Employee Giving Campaign.

PG&E also made local charitable contributions in 2013 of nearly $870,000 to more than 80 local nonprofits, including school programs, senior centers and other vital community projects in the Central Coast area.

Visitors can learn about the plant and a range of energy-related topics at our Energy Education Center and the Diablo Canyon website. Also, guided tours of Diablo Canyon provide an opportunity to speak directly with employees and learn how the plant provides safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy.

Measuring Progress

PG&E maintains a strong commitment to operate Diablo Canyon safely and efficiently, and the plant has consistently achieved strong performance. The plant’s capacity factor, which is a measure of generation reliability, improved in 2013.

Nuclear Power Plant Performance
  2011 2012 2013
Average Capacity Factor1 95% 90% 92%
1 Refers to the ratio of the actual output of the plant relative to the output if the plant had operated at full capacity for the year.

Diablo Canyon is also a vital local economic engine that brings significant benefits to San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties. PG&E is the largest private employer in the region, and Diablo Canyon generates nearly $1 billion a year of economic activity by the funds it directly spends and the subsequent economic activity in the community from those investments. Tax revenues from the plant, the largest property tax payer in San Luis Obispo County, help fund schools, public work projects, public safety, and health and other vital services.

Looking Ahead

Diablo Canyon will continue to serve as a major source of clean energy production at PG&E. In fact, Diablo Canyon’s ability to generate safe and carbon-free electricity around the clock is increasingly important as we expand supplies of intermittent sources of renewable energy, such as wind and solar.

More broadly, safety and security at the plant will remain PG&E’s top priorities. We will continue to refine our operations at the plant to enhance safety, including using the data from the advanced seismic research to support our Long-Term Seismic Program which continually assesses seismic safety at Diablo Canyon. We will also continue to maintain and upgrade our security systems to prepare for emerging threats.

PG&E Holds Hiring Fair

With two planned maintenance and refueling outages scheduled at Diablo Canyon in 2014, PG&E held an event to hire workers to support these projects. The hiring fair included opportunities to learn about outage work and full-time jobs at PG&E, as well as how local companies can do business with the utility.

Our Sustainability Journey





Economic Vitality