The future of California’s last remaining nuclear power plant fell to the hands of an administrative law judge presiding over a sparse, fluorescent-lit courtroom in San Francisco on Wednesday, as hearings began for PG&E’s application to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant by 2025.
After the first day of testimony, here’s what you need to know about the hearings and PG&E’s application to the California Public Utilities Commission:
▪ Hearings will continue for the next week. The CPUC has scheduled eight days of testimony through April 28. Representatives of San Luis Obispo County agencies are tentatively expected to speak next week.
▪ The Diablo Canyon closure is part of a joint agreement with labor and environmental organizations that PG&E says will increase investment in energy efficiency, renewable power and electricity storage.
PG&E has promised to pay $85 million to support local communities after Diablo Canyon closes; that includes $10 million for economic development efforts to help replace jobs that are lost. The utility also promised $250 million to an employee retention and retraining program that would help Diablo Canyon workers through the closure and decommissioning.
▪ Administrative law judge Peter Allen is in charge of the closure hearings. Allen has served as a California Public Utilities Commission judge since 1998. He will be joined by Michael Picker, CPUC board president, who will be the commission’s representative at the hearings.
▪ PG&E kicked off the proceedings Wednesday with testimony from company representatives Janice Frazier-Hampton, director of integrated resource planning, and Steven Malnight, senior vice president of strategy of policy.
Cross-examination of the two mostly focused on how PG&E plans to replace some of the power that Diablo Canyon produces with conservation and renewable energy. The company is required to submit a plan by Jan. 1, 2019.
▪ The CPUC will ultimately approve or deny PG&E’s application. That decision will come between 30 and 60 days after administrative judge Peter Allen issues his ruling.
▪ If you want to watch the hearing, go to www.adminmonitor.com/ca/cpuc/. The hearing begins Thursday and Friday at 10 a.m.