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SLO County could be a 'renewable energy hub' after Diablo closes. Here's how, Carbajal says

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is slated to close in 2025.
Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is slated to close in 2025. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Congressman Salud Carbajal announced a new bill Monday to encourage investment in renewable energy businesses in San Luis Obispo County.

The bill, called the Energy Opportunity Zone Act, is targeted to help the region stay competitive in the energy sector once one of its main energy producers, Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, closes in 2025.

"When I ran to represent San Luis Obispo, my top priority in the region was to soften the economic impacts of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant closure, and to make the Central Coast a renewable energy hub attracting new and successful business with good-paying jobs," Carbajal said at a press conference Monday.

According to a news release, the legislation creates an energy opportunity zone for the renewable energy industry in regions impacted by nuclear power plant closures.

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Carbajal said it would create a tax credit for counties that have closed a nuclear power plant, effective through 2028.

It would extend tax credits for solar or onshore wind companies that are headquartered in the new energy opportunity zones, as well as add a new credit for off-shore renewable energy production.

"As our community works together to mitigate the economic impacts of the closure, I am committed to helping secure the Central Coast's dominance as a hub for renewable energy development," he said.

Carbajal said he hopes it will also entice outside-the-area businesses to consider relocating to San Luis Obispo County to take advantage of those credits.

He's also in the process of reaching out to other regions around the country that have faced similar circumstances (such as plant closures) to get their support for the bill.

Third District county Supervisor Adam Hill thanked Carbajal for his work on the new legislation Monday.

"This community, SLO County, has definitely been one of the leading producers of energy in this entire state," he said. "I'm really glad that we have our congressman on top of this, that he is looking into every possible way to help us make this transition. I'm very confident about where we are heading in our community. I'm very confident that we will not only survive this change, but we will prevail, and we will be stronger."

San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce CEO Ermina Karim also voiced her support of the bill.

"This is the kind of legislation that will further the creation of future-oriented jobs that drive our local economy," she said. "The picture of energy is changing, and we can be part of the face of that."

The Energy Opportunity Zone Act is expected to be introduced to Congress on Thursday.

This is the second Diablo-Canyon-closure-related bill to be announced in the past month.

State Sen. Bill Monning and Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham announced co-authored legislation March 16 that would give San Luis Obispo County the full $85 million settlement for economic mitigation initially proposed by PG&E in its plans to shutter the nuclear power plant.

The bill was introduced by Monning on Feb. 12; it was amended in the Senate on March 15 and referred back to the Committee on Rules for a vote.

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Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928; @kaytyleslie
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