State proceedings for the application to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant started off with a bang Thursday — or more appropriately, a gripe.
Judge Peter Allen, the administrative judge handling the California Public Utilities Commission proceedings, criticized PG&E for “getting a little ahead of itself here and attempting to get ahead of this commission” by holding an “all-party meeting” Tuesday to discuss the schedule and scope of the CPUC proceedings.
Although PG&E may recommend ways to proceed, “this commission sets the schedule and the scope of this proceeding,” he said.
The prehearing conference, held in San Francisco, was the first in a series of meetings leading up to the state proceedings to consider the utility’s application to close the nuclear power plant.
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The conference was meant to take care of “housekeeping issues,” as Allen put it, confirming parties to the proceedings, setting a schedule and, most importantly, defining what would or would not be within the scope of the discussion.
Local speakers took the opportunity to further lobby that the economic impacts of the plant closure be included in the discussion. Allen was noncommittal on that issue at this point, but he did indicate that the question of how PG&E’s land might be used afterward was a topic that could be addressed elsewhere.
If you go The California Public Utilities Commission will host two public participation meetings Oct. 20 in San Luis Obispo. The public is encouraged to attend and weigh in on the closure proposal. The meetings will take place at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, 3450 Dairy Creek Road, San Luis Obispo, at 1:30 and 7 p.m.
Those two subjects have been the topic of some controversy in recent months.
After PG&E announced in June its decision to not relicense the two nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon when their permits expire in 2024 and 2025, chief among local concern was how the closure would economically impact the county and what would happen to the plant’s land and facilities after the closure.
Local agencies such as the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, San Luis Obispo County and a coalition of cities filed responses or complaints to the utility’s joint proposal, asking for more information on those two topics and to be involved in the discussions.
In a later response, PG&E said it felt those issues were outside the scope of the current proceedings, noting that an economic study of closure was already underway in the form of Senate Bill 968, which sets aside funding for an economic impact study, and that the land-use discussion would be better addressed when the utility presents its decommissioning plan in 2019.
That response was met with significant pushback, with some saying the company was trying to delay discussion on what it would do with its property until after it was already locked into a deal.
PG&E has since released a follow-up letter in which it committed to not making any decisions on how the lands would be used until after a robust public input process.
Local representatives at Thursday’s conference for the most part accepted PG&E’s request to consider land-use issues later, though several did express doubts that the utility would follow through on its promise, pointing to the lack of community involvement in the negotiations that resulted in the joint proposal.
For the most part, however, the local speakers continued to advocate that discussion on the closure’s potential impact on the economy be included in the proceedings, saying that although SB 968 approves the funding for a study, it doesn’t promise any action on the study results.
PG&E held to its previous position on the economic study, saying it didn’t think the process needed to be “duplicated.”
Allen said he was undecided about whether to discuss the economic impact of the closure on San Luis Obispo County in light of SB 968, but he did not feel future land-use discussions were appropriate at this time. He will issue his ruling after public participation meetings Oct. 20.
Opening testimonies are expected to begin in January, though that could change.
A memo will be released sometime after Oct. 20 that will outline the reach of the proceedings and the hearing schedule.
Watch the conference
To watch a recap of the prehearing conference, visit http://bit.ly/2dWQKx1