The $85 million settlement pledged to San Luis Obispo County cities and agencies with the 2025 closure of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant may be in jeopardy.
In November 2016, PG&E announced a joint proposal that would pay $85 million to SLO County cities and the San Luis Coastal Unified School District in order to partially offset lost tax dollars and job cuts after the plant's closure. The money would potentially come from PG&E ratepayers.
On Wednesday, Peter Allen, an administrative law judge with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), said using ratepayer money for community impacts mitigation programs was not authorized unless legislation directed commissioners to provide ratepayer money.
"Overall, the amount and allocation of payments appears to have more to do with PG&E's litigation needs than the economic needs of the community," Allen said in his proposal to the CPUC.
According to PG&E spokesperson Blair Jones, the company is standing by its joint proposal to provide that $85 million back to cities and agencies to offset costs.
"We strongly disagree with these adjustments," Jones said. "We believe that these programs are critical to what we're trying to do with the joint proposal."
San Luis Obispo County District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill commented on the proposed decision saying it was disappointing for the community. However, this decision is not final.
"As the judge pointed out in his decision that the legislature can direct the commission to use ratepayer dollars to offset the impacts," Hill said.
Other local officials, like Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, also shared concerns about the proposal.
"The proposed decision is disappointing on a number of levels. Of particular concern is the proposed reduction of funding for employee retention and retraining, and the complete elimination of community impact funds for schools and the county. I am exploring any and all options to ensure the appropriate funding of these critical needs, and will continue to do everything in my power to mitigate the impact of Diablo's closure on our economy, schools, and workforce," Cunningham said.
San Luis Coastal Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Prater wrote in a post, "Regardless of how this ultimately plays out with the CPUC, I am confident we will survive this ordeal by working together. We will continue to make the best decisions for our district and the students we serve."
Assistant County Administrator Officer Guy Savage called the proposal disappointing.
"As we have said before, our community will suffer if we do nothing to ease the impacts of the plant’s closure. However, we are not giving up and are working with our community partners to develop the best path forward,” Savage said.
Allen's proposal also allowed PG&E $171.8 million for employee retention and retraining, which is down from $363.4 million that PG&E requested in the joint proposal.
CPUC commissioners will be able to vote on the proposal on December 14 in San Francisco. Leading up to that will be a 25-day public comment period and final oral argumentation on November 28 at the CPUC.
Click here to read Allen's full proposed decision.
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