Renewable energy bill aims to attract wind, solar investments as Diablo Canyon closes

Posted at 11:26 PM, Apr 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-03 02:26:22-04

Diablo Canyon Power Plant is on track to shut down by 2025. Because the facility has generated nearly $1 billion a year for the San Luis Obispo County community, legislation is being introduced to soften the financial loss.

On Monday, Congressman Salud Carbajal (D – 24th District) introduced the Energy Opportunity Zone Act, which he says would give federal tax credits to the renewable energy industry near San Luis Obispo.

"It covers three major areas: solar, wind, and wave energy off our coast," said Rep. Carbajal.

Experts say Californians will lose a good portion of their power source once Diablo Canyon closes.

"Diablo Canyon produces somewhere between 7 to 8 percent of the state’s electricity," said Benjamin Ruttenberg, a professor at Cal Poly and director of the Center for Coastal Marine Science.

The local community is expected to take a huge economic hit. San Luis Coastal Unified School District loses $8 million out of their annual budget.

"We are trying hard not to have a huge layoff of teachers," said Ellen Sheffer, who is on the board for San Luis Coastal Unified School District.

Ruttenberg says city leaders will need to replace power with clean energy.

"If we don’t push more renewable energy projects, that power is going to need to be made up with more fossil fuels, which are going to produce more CO2, which is going to adversely impact climate," he added.

Kristin Zaitz, a PG&E employee and co-founder of Mothers for Nuclear, says the economic impact of Diablo Canyon’s closure will be difficult to replace. She doesn’t think that responsibility should land on taxpayers.

"It’s essentially proposing to replace one source of clean energy with another. In the midst of a climate crisis, we really don’t have time to do that," said Zaitz. "Can we really afford to spend taxpayer dollars doing that?"

Carbajal’s office says they hope to introduce the bill to Congress on Thursday.