PG&E promises public input before making post-Diablo land decisions

PG&E says it will not commit to plans for the lands surrounding Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, including Wild Cherry Canyon, above, until after the public weighs in.
PG&E says it will not commit to plans for the lands surrounding Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, including Wild Cherry Canyon, above, until after the public weighs in. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

PG&E says it will not commit to any plans for the 12,000 acres surrounding the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, including the area known as Wild Cherry Canyon, until after the public has a chance to weigh in on potential uses for the property after the plant shuts down by 2025.

In a letter sent Tuesday to San Luis Obispo County Administrator Dan Buckshi, PG&E Director of Strategic Initiatives Thomas Jones said the company will “convene a community advisory group that will give stakeholders an opportunity to help shape the future use of PG&E’s land plans prior to finalizing the site-specific plan.”

Jones also said the company “will not make any commitments on land disposition or post-retirement land use” until the advisory group finishes its work and the California Public Utilities Commission considers PG&E’s decommissioning plan.

PG&E announced in June that it would not relicense its two nuclear reactors when they expire in 2024 and 2025.

“PG&E values and appreciates the active partnership of the county and other local stakeholders, and we look forward to continuing to work with you and the rest of the community in both the pending CPUC proceeding and the important decommissioning work to follow,” Jones wrote.

The letter from Jones comes on the heels of PG&E’s request to the CPUC to not include discussion of the future of Diablo Canyon lands during upcoming hearings on PG&E’s proposal for closing the plant by 2025. Instead, the company wants the CPUC to delay that discussion until PG&E files a separate decommissioning plan in 2019.

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant will be shut down in 2025 after its operating licenses expire.

Several groups criticized that request, accusing PG&E of attempting to delay a public discussion of future land use until after the company was already committed to a plan.

Some, like Kara Woodruff of the Friends of Wild Cherry Canyon advocacy group, worried that while the lengthy CPUC proceedings were underway, PG&E would commit the land to developers HomeFed Corp., which has proposed building 1,500 homes in the 2,500-acre Wild Cherry Canyon.

Woodruff said Tuesday she was pleased with PG&E’s letter to Buckshi.

“PG&E’s promise to hold off on making land decisions may very well put HomeFed’s massive development plans on hold,” she wrote in an email to The Tribune. “It’s a sigh of relief for those who don’t welcome a tripling of the size of Avila Beach. And it gives a conservation outcome on the Diablo Lands a fighting chance.”

What comes next

PG&E and other stakeholders are expected to begin prehearing conferences Thursday to define what can be discussed during the current CPUC joint proposal proceedings.

That meeting will take place at 10:30 a.m. in San Francisco and will be broadcast live online at www.adminmonitor.com/ca/cpuc/prehearing_conference/20161006.

After that, the CPUC will host two public participation meetings on Oct. 20 to give local residents the opportunity to weigh in on the closure plans. Those will take place at the San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden, 3450 Dairy Creek Road, San Luis Obispo, at 1:30 and 7 p.m.

Take a closer look at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near Avila Beach. California's last operating nuclear power plant will close in 2025, owner Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has announced.

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