PG&E Continuing Its Nuclear License Renewal Application

PG&E Corp., owner of California’s largest utility, is continuing to seek license renewals for its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant while it conducts a study of the earthquake risks at the site.

If its application is approved, PG&E asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to hold off issuing the final licenses until the company has received the results of the seismic analysis, the company said in a statement today. The utility will not suspend the renewal process as part of its request, spokesman Paul Flake said in a telephone interview.

PG&E applied in November 2009 to renew the reactor licenses, which expire in 2024 and 2025, according to the commission’s website.

After a March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out power to a nuclear plant in Japan, triggering radiation releases and a partial meltdown, California lawmakers have called on PG&E to suspend its request to extend the life of its Diablo Canyon reactors until seismic studies can assess the risks. One reactor is 25 years old and the other 26 years. In August 2010, PG&E received funding from state regulators to conduct the risk analysis, which was recommended by the state in 2008, according to an April 10 letter sent by the company to the commission.

“We recognize that many in the public have called for this research to be completed before the NRC renews the plant’s licenses,” PG&E’s Chief Nuclear Officer John Conway said in the statement.

PG&E expects to complete its seismic report no later than December 2015, the company said in its letter to the commission. The commission is considering the potential impact PG&E’s request might have on the timing of the license renewal, Eliot Brenner, a spokesman for the commission, said in an e-mail statement.

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