PG&E’s plan to close Diablo Canyon deserves support

What will happen to Diablo Canyon after it closes?

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

Central Coast residents have the chance to weigh in Thursday on PG&E’s plan to shutter the Diablo Canyon Power plant in 2025. They should take advantage of it.

All things considered, we believe the closure plan — which was endorsed by several local government agencies — is the best our county can hope for, thanks largely to local officials who pushed back against the initial proposal.

First announced in June 2016, that earlier plan was the culmination of negotiations involving PG&E, environmental groups and labor groups. Local government agencies had been left out of the process, but they filed to intervene, and after more negotiations, PG&E agreed to increase the benefits.

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Those now include:

▪  $75 million to offset property tax losses by local government agencies, up from its original offer of $49.5 million.

▪  $10 million for economic development efforts. Those could include incentives such as loans and grants for businesses, as well as help with infrastructure to attract new employers.

diablo workers
Supporters of nuclear power say Diablo Canyon helps California meet its clean energy goals. Albert Contreras was among the PG&E supporters at last year’s State Lands Commission Hearing in Morro Bay. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

▪  Between $37.5 million and $62.5 million for local emergency planning efforts that will continue until all spent fuel is in dry cask storage and the two nuclear reactors are fully decommissioned.

▪  PG&E’s commitment to make no decision on reuse or sale of the land surrounding the plant until it has completed a decommissioning plan with input from the community.

▪  $250 million for an employee retention and retraining program.

Those are significant concessions, and they go above and beyond what many other “nuclear communities” received when local plants shut down.

But for many in our community, it’s not about dollars and cents, but rather, peace of mind. For those who have been worried about the seismic safety of Diablo Canyon, the decision to close is a relief — though spent nuclear fuel will continue to be a safety concern until it’s removed.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are plenty of supporters of nuclear power who oppose PG&E’s decision to close the plant. They question the ability to replace Diablo’s power with clean energy, and they point to the $1 billion per year economic hit our area will take when Diablo closes.

As the Diablo Canyon Power Plant closure looms, take a look at how other communities are coping with nuclear power plant closures.

We share those concerns.

However, PG&E is free to make its own business decisions and in this case, the utility — like many other nuclear power plant operators — concluded it no longer made economic sense to operate an expensive nuclear power plant in an era when alternative sources of energy are gaining ground.

We respect PG&E’s decision to close Diablo Canyon; we believe the transition to alternative energy sources such as wind and solar is the right move.

We believe the settlement agreement is fair.

It will be a struggle to replace the high-paying jobs and taxes generated by Diablo Canyon, but the economic assistance included in the proposal will ease the transition.

We urge the California Public Utilities Commission to approve the closure plan.

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.

Meeting Thursday

Representatives of the state Public Utilities Commission will be in San Luis Obispo on Thursday to hear public testimony on PG&E’s proposal to close Diablo Canyon. There will be two sessions, one at 1:30 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. Both are at the Ludwick Community Center, 864 Santa Rosa St. in San Luis Obispo.

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