As news spread Tuesday that PG&E has decided not to pursue relicensing the two reactors at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County, reaction has been coming in from all corners. Here’s what some people are saying:
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California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton congratulated his own party and PG&E over the decision to close Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in a news release:
“The agreement between PG&E, environmental groups, and labor unions to replace the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant with renewable energy sources within the next 10 years shows the power of Democratic action. I congratulate PG&E on its decision to phase out California’s last nuclear power plant and do right by Diablo Canyon workers. The plan is historic, and it should be a model for our nation.”
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State Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, who represents San Luis Obispo County, said he was taken by surprise with the announcement Tuesday that Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant would close in 2025.
“We didn’t expect such a big decision so soon. It’s very discomforting.”
Achadjian co-authored a bill with state Senator Bill Monning this year to study the economic impact of closing Diablo Canyon. The bill was scheduled to go to the state Committee on Utilities & Commerce for debate, but will now likely fail, Achadjian said.
“It doesn’t help doing it when we’ll see sooner than the study can be done what will happen,” he said.
Achadjian said though he was glad to see that PG&E had proposed several ways to ease the transition, he is still worried about the longterm effect the closure will have on San Luis Obispo County’s economy, including loss of jobs and property taxes.
“The pain is going to be felt when that $50 million goes away. We won’t feel the full domino effect until then.”
Port San Luis Harbor District manager Andrea Lueker said the district receives about $440,000 in property taxes from Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant — about seven percent of the port’s $6 million annual budget. Lueker said she’s unsure how the district will handle the loss, but expects the Harbor Commission will seek some of the $50 million PG&E will pay the county to offset declining property taxes through 2025.
“Certainly it’s a pretty large number, but we have time to look into it and how we will address it as more details become available.”
State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who represents Santa Barbara, said the decision was “historic” even as questions remain on the storage of radioactive spent fuel.
“This historic agreement will usher in a greener, safer future for communities downwind of Diablo Canyon, like those I represent, as well as the entire state. I commend all of the parties who came together to take this bold and important step toward a new energy future for California. While questions still remain about the storage of radioactive spent fuel, today is a cause for great celebration for what the future holds.”
State Treasurer John Chiang said he applauded the agreement by PG&E, environmental groups and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to close Diablo Canyon.
“The decision to replace electricity generated by the Diablo Canyon plant in San Luis Obispo County with renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, is both responsible and visionary.... As treasurer, I chair a number of special boards that provide innovative funding for energy efficiency, pollution control and other environmental programs. I stand ready to continue making those resources available as California transitions away from nuclear power.”
Michael Manchak, president and CEO of the Economic Vitality Corp. of San Luis Obispo County, said Tuesday that his organization will form a task force on the economic impacts of the closure of Diablo Canyon.
“The future closure of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant is shocking news and marks the loss of an employer that contributes an economic impact of over $1 billion to our local economy, touching nearly every aspect of our community. It will take strong collaboration between private and public sectors to develop strategies aimed at mitigating the loss of significant tax revenue to San Luis Obispo County and our local schools, as well as the thousands of jobs that are spread throughout our region.”
State Senator Bill Monning, who represents San Luis Obispo County, issued a statement about PG&E’s decision to close the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in August 2025. Monning has introduced a bill in the Legislature to do an assessment on the full economic impacts of the plant on the county. On Tuesday, he said:
“The Diablo Canyon Power Plant has been an anchor tenant for the region, as well as a point of controversy over the decades it has been in operation. The agreement by PG&E not to seek license renewal is historic and will have a major impact on the San Luis Obispo region. This action underscores the need for my Senate Bill 968, which calls for an economic assessment to assist the community on how to best address the needs of the plant’s workforce, the public’s safety, and the region’s economic interests. I look forward to working with all the stakeholders to ensure that the transition will be smooth.”
Rochelle Becker, executive director of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, which opposed relicensing of the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors after the current licenses expire in 20024 and 2025:
“We laud PG&E for acknowledging the inevitable changes in the way we make and use energy in our state. Parts of this proposal usher in a bold new paradigm for the state’s energy future, but for those of us in San Luis Obispo, the proposal also provides an orderly path to phase-out the reactors. After the sudden and chaotic closure of the San Onofre facility — and others around the country — it became clear that a more comprehensive and responsible approach was needed, one that would support the former host communities.”
San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx: “I have to say that I think it was a wise decision on their part. I think the turn toward clean and alternate energy is a good move. There are more questions that need to be answered and I have great faith in the resilience of our economy and community.”
Gene Nelson, with the pro-nuclear group Californian’s for Green Nuclear Power: “We are very disappointed and feel a sense of betrayal. I predict the state will have more rolling blackouts once the plant closes. It is a very sad day for San Luis Obispo in my opinion.”
Marvin Fertel, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, a nuclear industry lobbying group, called the decision to close Diablo Canyon “unique to PG&E and California energy policy.”
“In other states, energy companies have extended the operation of 80 reactors as a strategic measure to retain reliable, carbon-free electricity. Nuclear energy is a vital part of a balanced energy portfolio that lowers the cost of generating electricity by more than $93 billion per year compared to an energy portfolio limited to renewables and natural gas, according to a study by IHS Energy.”
Fertel said his group recognized the decision was “a difficult one for hundreds of employees who have operated Diablo Canyon safely and professionally for three decades.”
San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill, whose district includes Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, said PG&E’s decision not to seek relicensing for the nuclear plant was “an important decision” and was glad that the company had given the region a nine-year warning.
“The worst possible thing would be for the plant to shut down immediately. This gives us an opportunity to prepare for it.”
Hill said the closure means that plans to expand the plant’s desalination plant to provide as much as 1,300 acre-feet of additional water for San Luis Obispo’s South County will have to be scrapped.
“I think that’s got to be taken out of the equation right now. Fortunately, the county has not spent a lot of money on the project to this point.”
San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Frank Mecham said he wasn’t surprised, given that PG&E had put its license renewal request with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on hold in 2011. “I am not overly surprised because of the seismic and environmental issues surrounding the plant,” Mecham said.
San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold said the county will need to study what the plant’s closure in 2025 will mean for the county financially.
“I am no totally surprised. I am anxious to look into what this means for the county.”
San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Bruce Gibson said the plant’s closure will mean challenges for the state in finding way to replace the electrical power Diablo Canyon produces.
“I am confident that people will come together an find a way to deal with this.”
U.S. Rep. Lois Capps issued a news release saying the news “highlights the shift in our nation’s energy landscape” and that her office “will be closely monitoring the transition” as the closure plan moves ahead.
“For the past 30 years, PG&E and the Diablo Canyon Power Plant have been important partners in our local community, providing a significant portion of our energy and serving as the largest private employer in San Luis Obispo County. In light of today’s announcement, I am pleased to hear that they have been working with a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives from both the labor community and environmental interests, to ensure a responsible transition. In particular, I appreciate PG&E’s focus on ensuring that their employees, the County, and our region’s energy needs will be provided for during this transition away from nuclear power.”
State Controller Betty T. Yee, chair of the State Lands Commission, issued a statement hailing the “historic agreement” to close the plant. The commission will consider on June 28 whether to extend PG&E’s leases for its ocean intake and outfall pipelines, which provide cooling to Diablo Canyon.
“I applaud PG&E and Friends of the Earth for reaching agreement on a proposal governing the closure of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant at the expiration of its current operating licenses ... the specific details of these commitments will unfold in the coming months, the agreement provides a solid foundation and may well serve as a responsible model for handling of complex energy transitions. This agreement provides the State Lands Commission with significant information to consider as we take up the issue of nine-year lease extensions for the offshore infrastructure supporting Diablo Canyon at our next meeting.”
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a news release, calling an agreement between PG&E, environmental groups, and labor unions on the closure “extraordinary.”
“In its recognition that renewable energy is more cost effective and viable than nuclear power, this proposal marks the beginning of an extraordinary chapter in energy production that will command attention around the world. It is a validation of California’s leadership in renewable energy. I commend the efforts of the parties to this proposal for uniting behind a previously unthinkable solution to a remarkably complex question, and one that goes the extra distance to consider the community and employees connected to Diablo Canyon.”