Diablo Canyon Power Plant twin reactors

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and joint parties, in a proposal for closing Diablo Canyon Power Plant after its twin reactors' licenses expire, will not seek a rehearing on a California Public Utilities Commission decision that only approved portions of the plan.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and the joint parties involved in a plan to shutter Diablo Canyon Power Plant will not seek a rehearing on a California Public Utilities Commission decision that only approved part of the plan.

PG&E and the joint parties, consisting of labor and environmental organizations, announced the decision Thursday.

In accepting the CPUC ruling to retire Diablo Canyon, PG&E will withdraw its application to renew the two reactors’ operating licenses previously submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a company spokesman said.

He said PG&E will remain focused on safely operating Diablo Canyon up to the end of its existing licenses, which will expire in 2024 for Unit 1 and in 2025 for Unit 2.

The joint announcement was made after all the parties had conferred following the CPUC’s Jan. 11 vote on the jointly proposed closure agreement.

Several key elements of the agreement were approved in that decision; however, the CPUC did not approve a proposal for providing economic support to the San Luis Obispo County community to compensate for the revenue that will be lost when the plant closes.

The $85 million impact mitigation program would provide funding for essential public services and ease the financial transition, PG&E officials said.

The CPUC also did not approve a specific plan for replacing energy produced by Diablo Canyon with power produced by greenhouse-gas-free resources, although commissioners said they intend to avoid any increase in greenhouse gas emissions as a result of the plant’s closure.

PG&E and the joint parties considered seeking a rehearing in an effort to gain approval of those elements, but Thursday they said those goals can be achieved through existing CPUC regulatory proceedings and, potentially, state legislation.

Major elements of the proposal that were approved include PG&E halting plant operations when the NRC operating licenses expire and a plan to retain the plant’s skilled workforce to operate the facility safely.

The employee program includes incentives to retain employees during the plant’s remaining operation and a retraining program to deploy some of the plant personnel to the decommissioning project or other company positions.

PG&E officials say they do not believe long-term customer rates will increase as a result of the joint proposal.

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Officials said the company will now begin establishing a community engagement panel to provide input on and information about the decommissioning plan, including how the site and land around it will be used in the future.

The company initially applied for an extension in the NRC operating licenses, a move that was opposed by some labor organizations, environmental groups and others concerned about safety.

State policies are also focusing more on renewable energy sources and efficiency, and customer demand for electricity is projected to decrease, which the company said will reduce the need for electricity produced by Diablo Canyon beyond 2025.

As a result, PG&E partnered with labor and environmental organizations in 2016 to develop a joint proposal to increase the company’s investment in energy efficiency and renewable sourcess while retiring the nuclear plant when its operating licenses expire.

In addition to PG&E, the joint parties include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, Coalition of California Utility Employees, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment California, California Energy Efficiency Industry Council and Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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