PG&E To Withdraw Diablo Canyon NPP License Application

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) said late last week it would  not seek a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) rehearing on the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) joint proposal decision. Subsequently,  in accepting the CPUC’s ruling to retire DCPP, the company said with its joint partners it would withdraw its license renewal application at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

Diablo Canyon NPPPG&E said its primary focus would be on safely operating the power plant to the end of its existing licenses, which expire for Unit 1 in 2024 and Unit 2 in 2025. The company also said it would move ahead with establishing a community engagement panel to seek input and channel information to and from the local community to develop a "site-specific decommissioning plan" for DCPP.

Today’s announcement comes after all the parties had the opportunity to confer following the CPUC’s January 11, 2018, vote on the DCPP joint proposal agreement.

In that vote, the California regulator approved of several "key elements of the agreement," the company noted in a statement. Those key aspects of the agreement including approval to cease plant operations once the NRC operating licenses expire. The Commission also authorized an employee retention program to maintain the plant’s highly skilled workforce to continue safely operating the facility, and expressed its intention to avoid any increase in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the closure of DCPP.

PG&E also said it would stay the course in support of both economic support for the greater San Luis Obispo County community and a development of greenhouse gas-free energy resources for the community that would replace the nuclear power plant. "PG&E and the joint parties stated they are supportive of other pathways to achieve these objectives, including through existing CPUC regulatory proceedings and potential state legislation," the company said, adding that "California's energy landscape is changing dramatically."

The company expects California's renewables energy initiatives combined with an expectation of lower customer electricity demand in the future, will result in a significant reduction in the need for the electricity produced by DCPP past 2025.

However, such transitions can be a jolt to the economic landscape. Within the transition plan approved by regulators is an $85 million allotment to mitigate community impact due to the plant's closure. A DCPP employee program is expected to "provide incentives to retain employees during the remaining operating years of the plant, and a retraining and development program to facilitate redeployment of a portion of plant personnel to the decommissioning project or other positions within the company," PG&E said.

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