Update, Thursday 10:30 a.m.:
The California Public Utilities Commission will wait until next year to make a decision on PG&E’s application to shutter Diablo Canyon in 2025.
Director of CPUC’s News and Outreach Office, Terrie Prosper, said the commission has held the item from its Thursday agenda, when it was originally slated to make a decision. It will instead discuss it at its next meeting Jan. 11.
Read more on the decision here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/article189755714.html.
The day is almost here: After more than a year of debate, the California Public Utilities Commission is expected to finally vote this week on whether PG&E can close Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
The panel will vote Thursday in San Francisco on PG&E’s joint application to decommission the plant when licenses for its two nuclear reactors expire in 2024 and 2025.
If the five-person commission, which governs utilities in California, follows precedent, it will likely approve the application per the recommendation of administrative law judge Peter Allen. (Allen recommended approval of the application, with a few key exceptions, namely that ratepayers not pay for SLO County cities, schools and agencies to receive an $85 million settlement, and that PG&E’s proposed employee retention program receive only half of the requested $350 million in funding.)
In advance of the commission’s decision, here’s a quick look at what has happened in the past year as the application awaited approval (for a look at Diablo Canyon’s history, check out this list of important milestones at the plant):
▪ June 21, 2016: In a momentous decision with far-reaching consequences, PG&E announces it will not pursue license renewal for the two reactors at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and will close it in 2025 — ending a tumultuous 31-year relationship with the community and leading to an annual economic loss of about $1 billion locally.
▪ June 22, 2016: From Sacramento to San Luis Obispo, reaction to PG&E’s announcement ranges from shock to optimism and applause. Locally, many focus on the economic impacts the closure of San Luis Obispo County’s largest private employer will have on jobs and property tax revenues.
▪ June 28, 2016: After a full day of public testimony in Sacramento and via telecast in Morro Bay, the California State Lands Commission extends a key lease for Diablo Canyon — avoiding a plant shutdown in 2018 when the lease expires for the seawater intake and outflow structures that feed the facility’s cooling system.
▪ July 9, 2016: San Luis Coastal Unified School District Superintendent Eric Prater warns of potential cuts and school closures in light of lost property tax revenue once Diablo Canyon closes. The district gets roughly $9.5 million annually from the power plant.
▪ July 20, 2016: Dozens of people attending two public workshops held by PG&E urge the utility company to conserve 12,000 acres surrounding the plant, including the Wild Cherry Canyon area of Avila Beach.
▪ Aug. 11, 2016: PG&E files its proposal to close Diablo Canyon.
▪ Sept. 26, 2016: PG&E files its official response to the 29 comments and protests filed by various community groups and organizations since PG&E announced its plan in June. In it, the utility company says it doesn’t want to talk about its post-closure plans for Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant or requests to close the facility early, but it does want to discuss how to replace the lost power with greenhouse gas-free and energy-efficient resources.
▪ Oct. 5, 2016: PG&E says it will not commit to any plans for the 12,000 acres surrounding Diablo Canyon, including Wild Cherry Canyon, until after the public has a chance to weigh in on potential uses for the property after the plant shuts down.
▪ Nov. 28, 2016: PG&E agrees to pay $85 million to seven local cities, San Luis Coastal Unified School District and San Luis Obispo County to support those agencies after the plant’s proposed closure in 2025. That’s up from $49.5 million that it originally proposed.
▪ Feb. 22, 2017: Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham announces he has introduced a bill to commission a study on the feasibility of using the ocean water desalination facility at Diablo Canyon as a local water source. If found feasible, the power plant’s desalination plant could be repurposed to provide the Central Coast region with drought-proof water, according to a news release from Cunningham’s office.
▪ April 19, 2017: CPUC hearings began for PG&E’s application to close the nuclear power plant by 2025.
▪ Sept. 14, 2017: The CPUC hosts two meetings for the public to share their opinions on the plan to shutter the plant. Community sentiment tends toward acceptance of the plan, especially the proposed community impact mitigation funds.
▪ Nov. 8, 2017: Administrative Judge Peter Allen issues a tentative ruling recommending approval of the application. The ruling does not support PG&E’s plan to have ratepayers pay for the $85 million settlement between the company and SLO County cities, San Luis Coastal Unified School District and the county to help support those communities through Diablo Canyon’s closure. Allen also recommends against paying $350 million for an employee retention program, and instead supports $160.5 million. Community members say they were concerned by the change in the application, and planned to push for the funding anyway.
▪ Nov. 27, 2017: Ten Central Coast groups submit a letter voicing their support for the $85 million community impact mitigation settlement, saying the new proposal “threatens to plunge our region — and most critically, our schools — into an economic tailspin.”
▪ Dec. 12, 2017: San Luis Coastal Unified School District releases the results of its study into how it will cope with the loss of Diablo Canyon funding.