California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Thursday approved the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, closing Unit 1 by 2024 and Unit 2 by 2025, citing specifically the changing economic landscape that puts nuclear power at a disadvantage compared with other energy generation systems.
“Diablo Canyon has been a source of reliable and clean electricity – and employment – in San Louis Obispo for many years now. But the plant is no longer economic,” said the commission's President Michael Parker. “We have laid out a fair and reasonable pathway to clean power replacement, as well as a program for retaining skilled workers over the course of the next seven years,” he said.
Plant owner Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has filed for a plant closure plan that was worked out with environmental and labor groups who pressured for a closure armed with their understanding that renewable power generation – solar and wind power – was cheaper and the inevitable path forward for generation in a world confronting global warming. For its part, PG&E negotiated for terms that would allow the nuclear power plant to remain profitable until its closure.
The CPUC agreed to allow PG&E to recoup several expenses from ratepayers prior to closure, including $241 million to cover plant closure expenses, $211 million to cover compensation for employees through to the plant's closing, $11 million to invest in employee retraining and $18.6 million to cover operationg licensing expenses.
The company had also asked for $85 million to cover economic impact for the San Louis Obispo area that would be affected by losing a huge employer that paid out reasonably high salaries to its employees.
The commission rejected that last expense. “While we are disappointed that they did not approve the full employee retention program, as well as the community impact mitigation and energy efficiency programs, we are appreciative that the CPUC took the positive step to increase the amount of funding for employee retention beyond their original proposed decision,” PG&E said in a statement.
“The joint proposal represents an array of interests from many parties who joined together to promote the best path forward for our state and PG&E’s customers. Since the full proposal was not approved, in line with our agreement, PG&E will be meeting to confer with our labor, community and environmental group partners in the days ahead about the decision, our next steps and the path forward.”
The closures have the two plants scheduled to close in line with the end of their current operating licenses. As such, the reactors are not technically shutting down prematurely, although the company could have elected to extend the licenses of the reactors for an additional 20 years and, perhaps even longer had the investment and regulatory option been available. As it is, the reactors began operations in 1984 and 1985, respectively, so their closure comes at the end of their originally expected 40-year operating lifespans.
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Do you have an article reporting the efforts to keep Diablo Canyon alive and the fact that Michael Shellenberger has joined the Governor's race largely because of this issue?
Rick, We have Michael Shellenberger content on NS from other sources but we have not written an article about him. Your more than welcome to contribute an article about him to us for posting on NS.