PG&E files plan to shut down Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

A joint proposal calling for the shutdown of California’s lone remaining nuclear power plant was formally submitted by Pacific Gas & Electric to the California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday.

A number of environmental organizations and labor unions joined PG&E in the proposal to close both units at the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility near San Luis Osbispo by 2025. The plan would replace Diablo Canyon’s 2,160 megawatts of electricity generation with a combination of renewable sources, energy storage, better energy efficiency and changes to the power grid.

“Today’s action represents a major milestone,” PG&E President Geisha Williams said in an email to the utility’s employees. The proposal was first announced on June 21.

PG&E plans to pay nearly $50 million to San Luis Obispo County to help offset property taxes that would decline because of the plant closing.

“Retiring nuclear power plants and replacing them with energy efficiency and solar is good for California’s environment and good for our economy,” said Dan Jacobson, legislative director for Environment California, one of the environmental groups involved in crafting the joint proposal.

PG&E officials say they don’t expect long-term customer rates will increase if Diablo Canyon is shut down. They believe re-licensing the plant and operating it through 2044 will be more expensive than adopting the joint proposal. The proposal anticipates declining costs for renewable power, as well as lower demand from customers.

Following the shuttering of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in January 2012, Diablo Canyon is the last nuclear power plant in California. According to the most recent data from the California Energy Commission, nuclear power accounted for 9.2% of the state’s power mix.

rob.nikolewski@sduniontribune.com

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