SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today rejected much of an historic joint proposal to retire and replace the state’s last nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, with lower-cost, pollution-free alternatives, instead removing critical elements to protect the climate, plant workers, and surrounding communities.
Plant owner Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), citizen and environmental groups including NRDC, and labor organizations in June 2016 announced an agreement to close the two reactors near San Luis Obispo by August 2025. Their “Joint Proposal” had asked the CPUC to authorize the replacement of the electricity being generated by the plant 250 miles south of San Francisco with emissions-free options led by energy efficiency, wind and solar power, and included protections for plant workers and surrounding communities during the transition.
Following is a statement from Ralph Cavanagh, energy program co-director at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“It’s critical to ensure that Diablo Canyon’s electricity output is replaced without increasing carbon emissions and we remain committed to that goal. It’s a real tragedy that the commission did not specifically authorize carbon-free replacement like energy efficiency and wind and solar power, and that it ignored the full impact of the plant’s closure on the workers and surrounding communities.
“The decision undermines what should have been an inspiring model for the rest of the country and the world on best practices for planning for the closure of giant, expensive, and inflexible nuclear plants.”
“We will explore alternative options to ensure that the urgent needs of the affected communities, workers, and the environment are addressed.”
Under today’s decision, PG&E can proceed with its plan to retire the two reactors. The CPUC said it would use a separate proceeding to determine how to replace the plant’s output. While noting “it is the intent of the Commission to avoid any increase in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the closure of Diablo Canyon,” the CPUC missed a golden opportunity to begin a transition to zero-carbon replacement in rejecting the proposed 53 percent increase in how much energy PG&E should help its customers save through energy efficiency programs, a prominent feature of the Joint Proposal.
The CPUC decision also:
· Makes no explicit provision for replacing any part of Diablo Canyon’s output with zero-carbon resources; and
· Disallows more than half of the Joint Proposal’s recommended transition support to plant workers and their communities (cutting $226 million out of a seven-year total of $448 million), which is crucial to ensuring the plant’s safe and reliable operation.
However, the California Legislature could overturn the decision and direct the CPUC to implement all or part of the Joint Proposal.
Peter Miller, NRDC’s western energy project director, has posted a reaction blog here:
Recent NRDC blogs on the topic can be found here:
California Regulators Weigh Historic Diablo Canyon Decision by Ralph Cavanagh
Climate Protection Missing from Diablo Canyon Draft Decision by Peter Miller
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.