Californians Warned of $12 Billion Nuclear Bill

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Jun 29, 2024

California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, is known around the state and the country for his controversial decisions. The most recent of which is the funding of a nuclear power plant that will cost California residents billions of dollars.

While Gov. Newsom has already pledged to support Pacific Gas & Electric’s nuclear plant, now that it’s estimated to cost a whopping $12 billion, Californians are begging the Democratic leader to withdraw from the deal before it’s too late.

California Legislation Passed PG&E’s Wildly Expensive Power Plant

Pacific Gas & Electric Company, more commonly known as PG&E, operates the only nuclear power plant in California: Diablo Canyon. The giant facility, which sits on 1,000 acres of land along the Pacific coast, contains two incredibly powerful nuclear reactors.

A sign on a Pacific Gas and Electric Company building

Source: Shutterstock

In 2022, California Legislature, including a sign off by Newsom, approved a plan to extend Diablo Canyon’s operating license for another five years to expire in 2030. Additionally, the Golden State’s government agreed to continue funding billions of dollars to keep PG&E’s Diablo Canyon running.

The Diablo Canyon Power Plant Creates Clean Energy for California

The reason why Califonia agreed to continue funding the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in the first place is because it provides a total of 18,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity every year. That’s enough energy for three million Golden State residents for the entire year.

An aerial photograph of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant, on the coast of California

Source: Wikipedia

What’s especially exciting for California’s government about PG&E’s nuclear power production is that it releases zero carbon emissions into the air, making it one of the most environmentally friendly energy sources on Earth.

Nuclear Power Might Be the Future

The nuclear power generated from Diablo Canyon is unquestionably helping the state of California combat the ever-growing negative side effects of climate change.

A photograph of four large towers at a nuclear power plant

Source: iStock

But in order to truly utilize nuclear power to replace fossil fuels, California would need a whole lot more of it. Some say California should fund and focus on building more reactors to power the state, whereas others argue it’s far too expensive and not the best option for California’s green energy initiative.

Gavin Newsom Is Dedicated to Transitioning California to Entirely Green Energy Sources

In 2022, Gov. Newsom announced California’s Climate Plan, which explained that the state will cut air pollution by 71%, slash greenhouse gas emissions by 85%, and decrease gas consumption by 94%, all by 2045.

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom smiles for the camera

Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

But just two years later, the governor is struggling to make this plan a reality. And although Newsom claimed the plan would save Californians money, it’s becoming increasingly more expensive to live in the Golden State.

The Cost of Operating the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Has Increased by 250%

When California’s legislature initially agreed to continue funding the nuclear plant, the investment was supposed to create substantial clean energy for residents to assist in Gov. Newsom’s zero-emission plan.

A set of hands gives hundreds of dollars in cash to another hand

Source: Freepik

But things have changed since the initial approval. By May 2023, just six months after California and Newsom approved the funding for Diablo Canyon, the estimated operational costs were still $5.2 billion. But by February 2024, that estimation had skyrocketed to $8.1 billion, and in March, they reportedly said it would cost an almost unbelievable $11.8 billion to run until 2030 as planned.


The EWG Is Begging Newsom to Pull Out of the Deal

This information was released not by PG&E but by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) of California. EWG is a nonprofit, nonpartisan American activist group that fights for the safety of every American citizen.

The EWG logo alongside a photograph of a mother and daughter playing in their living room

Source: EWG

They believe that spending billions on nuclear energy is a huge mistake. EWG published an article last week that said, “Now the public knows the actual price tag (at least what PG&E is currently admitting) is closer to $12 billion. And that figure excludes all of the enormously expensive safety improvements nuclear experts insist are needed for the two nuclear reactors.”


“Financial Benefits Exceed the Costs”

However, a PG&E spokesperson has commented on the situation, claiming that the $12 billion figure is wildly inaccurate.

A male employee looks over figures on a tablet at a factory

Source: Freepik

PG&E contests that the current estimate is only $8.3 billion, and that, more importantly, the “financial benefits exceed the costs.” They wholeheartedly believe that funding the nuclear power plant could save California from the effects of climate change and is worth every penny.


Californians Are Already Seeing the Negative Side Effects to Climate Change

While the negative consequences of climate change are being felt all over the world, because of California’s geographic location, it is experiencing more side effects than many other regions.

A flooded residential street showing mailboxes almost underwater

Source: Freepik

According to the state’s Department of Justice, California is already seeing rising sea levels and coastal flooding, water shortages due to minimal snowfall, intensified wildfires, extensive storms, flash floods, damage to agriculture, and rising temperatures. If nothing is done, it will get far worse for California in the very near future.


Gov. Newsom’s Clean Energy Initiatives Are Costing Residents Money

Although it’s almost impossible to deny the effects of climate change in California, some residents are frustrated that Gov. Newsom’s clean energy initiatives are costing them a fortune.

A photograph of several US tax forms on a table with hundreds of dollars and a pen

Source: Freepik

From electricity bills to taxes, Californians pay more than Americans who live in almost any other state. To make matters worse, California doesn’t even offer tax breaks to residents using green energy sources, like solar and wind, as other states do.


It’s Too Expensive to Live in California Now

Over the past couple of years, hundreds of thousands of people have fled California to other nearby states with a far lower cost of living.

Lanes and lanes of heavy commuter traffic on a highway in California with dozens of cars slowed down.

Source: iStock

The Golden State has one of the highest costs of living in the US, and many residents either cannot afford to live there any more or are simply tired of spending all their hard earned money on taxes, rent, utilities, and groceries.


Will California Continue to Spend on Nuclear Power?

The general consensus these days is that California needs to find some way to minimize its costs for residents, otherwise, it’s going to be all but empty. However, in order to do that, California Governor Gavin Newsom needs to stop spending billions of dollars every year.

A photograph of a California flag and a US flag next to a palm tree against a blue sky

Source: Freepik

Whether or not the governor will retract his approval of the PG&E nuclear power plant funding is yet to be seen but it seems unlikely. The governor and the California government seem set on their plan to spend a fortune on green energy, even if it means losing residents in the process.