Pacific Gas and Electric is one of the largest investor-owned utilities in the nation.
An independent and nonprofit California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) intervenor, Californians for Green Nuclear Power Inc. (CGNP) was established in 2013. CGNP's primary goal is to maintain the economic and environmental benefits of Diablo Canyon Power Plant's continued safe operation beyond 2025.
Privately, plant workers appreciate CGNP's advocacy. You already learned PG&E's perspective. Clarifications of six commonly-held beliefs about Diablo Canyon follow, and may contain some surprises for readers.
Diablo Canyon will close in 2025. Unlikely. In 2016, CGNP became the only adversarial party when PG&E requested permission from CPUC to abandon the functional plant in 2025. For its filings, CGNP enlisted the help of credentialed physicists and nuclear engineers, and attorneys experienced in utility and environmental law.
CGNP's filings provided an abundance of evidence in support of its objections to PG&E's application. CGNP's evidence included voluminous sworn testimony PG&E provided to the CPUC in 2010 to recover relicensing costs to 2045.
In 2010, PG&E concluded the most cost-effective approach among 18 well-documented alternatives was to keep the plant running. Inexplicably, in its 2016 application, PG&E concludes differently, after burdening the plant with $3 billion-plus in specious, unsupported cooling system costs.
After CGNP provided ample evidence of clear ratepayer and environmental benefits from the continued safe operation of the facility, CGNP maintained undue CPUC influence by California's large investor-owned utilities played a part in CPUC's consideration of the abandonment application. CGNP filed an application for rehearing on the day CPUC published its decision approving the abandonment of the plant, reopening PG&E's application.
If the CPUC rejects the application, CGNP will bring the case before the state appeals court system. CGNP's counsel is experienced in these cases, and CGNP has every expectation to prevail on the merits of its case there.
Diablo Canyon's power is expensive. False. PG&E's 2010 filing clearly established the plant was less expensive than fossil-fired generation, and far less expensive than the cost of solar and wind when the taxpayer-funded subsidies are removed. For example, the trouble-plagued Ivanpah Solar plant's cost to PG&E is about 10 times Diablo Canyon’s.
Diablo Canyon is safe. True. The plant has operated safely and reliably since 1984. Per-unit of power generated, U.S. nuclear power is even safer than solar, and far safer than fossil-fired generation that kills thousands annually via air pollution.
Diablo Canyon's power is abundant. True. It economically generates the equivalent of five Hoover Dams annually, with zero carbon emissions.
Diablo Canyon powers our region's economy. True. It is the largest Central Coast private-sector employer, annually providing $1 billion in payrolls and expenditures, and $1.2 billion in sales of electricity. If the plant is abandoned, those specialized jobs will disappear, forcing many highly-skilled workers to relocate. A regional economic depression could follow.
Solar and wind can replace Diablo Canyon. False. Neither is reliable to provide power for California, the world's fifth-largest economy. Because solar and wind are not always available when needed, both require massive amounts of backup power from gas or coal. DCPP was designed to last a century and is carefully maintained by PG&E. The plant generates power 24/7, day or night, wind or calm, drought or flood.
PG&E is apparently motivated to abandon Diablo Canyon prematurely only to enrich shareholders. In doing so, the utility abandons its obligation to protect the public interest in exchange for the natural monopoly to provide local residents with electricity. To learn more, visit our website: http://CGNP.org, or attend our public meetings.