Gov. Gavin Newsom said California has little choice but to extend the service life of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power facility, given the severity of the climate crisis, which he said has been reflected by many recent events. | Michael A. Mariant, File/AP Photo
SACRAMENTO — An epic heat wave is descending on California, putting tens of thousands of people at risk from triple-digit temperatures and straining the power grid just as lawmakers are debating whether to preserve the state’s last nuclear power plant to prevent blackouts.
Both the looming heat wave and a divisive, last-minute effort to halt the shutdown of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant are reminders of the challenge posed by climate change in the nation’s most populous state, where even now higher temperatures and drought test the aging infrastructure. State officials were already calling for voluntary conservation Wednesday because of the soaring temperatures.
The debate over Diablo Canyon will also be a test for Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has been working overtime in recent days to secure support from state lawmakers to extend the plant’s life beyond 2025 despite opposition from environmental groups and progressive Democrats.
Energy from Diablo Canyon, the governor said Wednesday, does not produce greenhouse gases and is needed to cover gaps in the grid as the state transitions away from fossil fuels.
“This is critical in the context of making sure we have energy reliability going forward,” he said in a speech addressing the …