Congress looking for money for cities hit by nuclear plant closures — including Diablo Canyon

Congress wants to find money to support communities where nuclear power plants are being decommissioned — which could mean some funding for San Luis Obispo County once Diablo Canyon starts the process itself in the coming years.

Congressman Salud Carbajal announced Monday that Congress directed the U.S. Department of Energy to study public and private funding sources available to help those communities, as part of its Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water, Legislative Branch and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act (HR 5895).

“With the impending Diablo Canyon Power Plant closure, I am working to secure all available federal resources to help offset the economic impact of this decommissioning,” Carbajal said in a news release.

Carbajal, a Democrat, represents California’s 24th Congressional District, which spans between San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties.

The Department of Energy study will focus on identifying public and private funds to support municipalities where a nuclear power plant is decommissioned, in the process of decommissioning or plans to shut down within three years of the act’s enactment, and contains nuclear waste within its boundaries, according to the news release.

The bill passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate and is set to be signed into law by President Donald Trump sometime before the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill — whose district includes Diablo Canyon — said he thought the directive was a great idea.

“Our community, which will be impacted by the loss of the plant, will also be living indefinitely with a nuclear waste site that we never agreed to and for which we should be compensated,” Hill said in an email Monday, adding that he supported Carbajal’s plan “from the beginning.”

Carbajal said the funding plan represents another opportunity to help revitalize the Central Coast once Diablo Canyon shutters in 2025.

“With this significant challenge also comes an opportunity to designate the Central Coast a renewable energy hub, by attracting new businesses that provide good-paying jobs in our community,” he said.

In April, Carbajal introduced a bill to create “energy opportunity zones” for renewable energy businesses in regions impacted by plant closures.

His Energy Opportunity Zones Act (HR 5441) would extend tax credits and introduce a new tax credit to encourage renewable energy business development in San Luis Obispo County. That bill was introduced to the House of Representatives in April, and then referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means. No further action has been taken on it since then.

Another bill that would potentially net San Luis Obispo County some Diablo Canyon-related cash is currently at Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, awaiting approval.

SB 1090 would direct the California Public Utilities Commission to approve an $85 million settlement to San Luis Obispo County agencies, and PG&E’s full $350 million proposed employee retention and retraining program. (When it approved the application in January to shutter the plant, the commission knocked down the settlement and approved a lesser amount — $222 million — for the employee program, saying it didn’t feel it could charge ratepayers for the deal.)

That bill passed both the state Senate and Assembly this year, before heading to the governor’s desk. Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto it.

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Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie
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