Bill to guarantee $85 million Diablo Canyon closure settlement heads to governor

A bill that would ensure SLO County received $85 million to help mitigate the impact of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant closure is on its way to the governor.

The bill, coauthored by Sen. Bill Monning and Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, passed the state Assembly on Monday in a 55-1 vote.

“The Legislature has show its support for the San Luis Obispo community and the workers at Diablo Canyon by passing SB 1090,” Monning said in a statement. “I am hopeful that Governor (Jerry) Brown will also be supportive of the safe, reliable and carefully planned retirement of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and sign SB 1090. The bill is imperative to the local economy, the state’s energy grid and the region.”

PG&E’s application to close the state’s last nuclear power plant was approved by the California Public Utilities Commission in January, but the commission voted against the $85 million settlement, saying it did not feel it had the legislative authority to charge ratepayers for the deal.

The bill would direct the CPUC to approve the settlement and PG&E’s full $350 million proposed employee retention and retraining program. (The commission approved a lesser amount — $222 million — for the employee program.)

The settlement would help support the region through what promises to be a huge economic shift once the plant closes. Diablo Canyon has an estimated $1 billion impact on the local economy, and is the county’s largest private industry employer with nearly 1,500 workers.

“The closure of Diablo Canyon is a major hit to our community and will be felt for decades,” Cunningham said in a statement. “While we can’t fully replace the economic benefits and energy created by Diablo Canyon, this bipartisan bill will help cushion the blow for the Diablo workforce and our community.”

It will now move on to Brown’s desk, where he will have until Sept. 30 to sign or veto it.

Supporters of the bill — including the county and a representative of the coalition of local cities that lobbied for the settlement in the first place — applauded the bill’s legislative support on Tuesday.

“There’s a good reason this bill has had such strong bipartisan support at the state level: The closure of Diablo Canyon Power Plant will significantly impact the San Luis Obispo County region for years to come,” Administrative Officer Wade Horton said. “SB 1090 will help ease those impacts as we transition to a post-Diablo Canyon economy. We appreciate the state Legislature’s support, particularly that of Sen. Monning and Assemblyman Cunningham.”

San Luis Obispo City Manager and coalition representative Derek Johnson added:

“Our communities have borne, and will continue to bear, the risk of having a nuclear power plant in our region. These funds will help to ensure safe operations through the plant’s closure in 2025 and will ease environmental impacts of the plant’s closure locally and across the state.”

Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie

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