PG&E hosts open house on energy

County residents will have a chance today to learn about nuclear energy by speaking with experts from Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

A public open house at PG&E’s energy education center will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. The center is located at 6588 Ontario Road, just south of San Luis Obispo.

At regular meetings of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, locals may observe, but generally cannot participate. The open house is the first opportunity in recent memory for the public to engage with PG&E staff, such as Diablo Canyon vice president Jim Becker, as well as staff representing economic impact, environmental and land stewardship, license renewal, safety, security and emergency planning and seismic issues.

PG&E provides power to more than 15 million people in Northern and Central California. Diablo Canyon, the company’s only nuclear power plant, produces 20 percent of that energy.

PG&E is currently in the process of soliciting renewal for Diablo Canyon’s two licenses, the first of which will expire in 2024. If granted, the extended licenses would expire in 2044 and 2045.

Determinations of seismic safety and environmental impacts will be central to license renewal for the plant, which is located less than two miles from two offshore faults.

Earthquakes became the foremost safety concern at Diablo Canyon during its construction when the Hosgri Fault was discovered offshore. Additionally, the Shoreline Fault was found in 2008. Seismologists say that the maximum strength of a quake from either fault is magnitude 6.5. Diablo Canyon is designed to withstand a quake of magnitude 7.5.

Environmental impacts include once-through cooling using ocean water, and its impact on marine life.

The center, which is open daily from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., features displays about energy sources and a newly renovated auditorium seating up to 64. The auditorium is available for use by local nonprofits.