The Diablo Canyon Power Plant is just a few years away from its planned decommissioning but efforts are growing to keep the nuclear power plant in operation.
In response to proposed state legislation that would extend the lifespan of the power plant, nine mayors from the Central Coast crafted and sent a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom in hopes of helping shape that legislation.
“We just knew that if this is going to happen, think of these things that are important to our community,” said San Luis Obispo Mayor Erica A. Stewart.
“We need to make certain that there is some path towards keeping the lights on and making sure that we do go towards renewable energies,” said Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee.
“Diablo Canyon, while located in San Luis Obispo County, really is a regional issue,” added Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne.
The nine mayors have combined their efforts in a response to Gov. Newsom’s proposed $1.4 billion loan to PG&E to extend the operation of Diablo Canyon.
“We reached out to Lompoc, Santa Maria, King City, really beyond, because this affects us all,” said Stewart.
“There's such a large amount of energy produced by Diablo that it won't just impact us as a region, it will impact the entire state,” said Osborne.
The partnership of mayors included San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Lompoc, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, Paso Robles, and Santa Maria.
“A draft went out to each of the mayors, and we got to put our input in there based upon our backgrounds, our experience, and what we saw as critical,” said Lee.
“We want to see renewable energy happening,” said Stewart. “It has to actually be able to provide power for all of us, so we have to really look at how we grow that.”
The intention of the mayors is to share policies they believe should be involved in legislation geared toward extending the power plant.
“As we look at renewable energy, if we're not there now, let's not see an extension that's just for a couple more years,” said Stewart. “Let's make sure we're tying this extension to adding to renewable energy. That means getting rid of some of the regulatory barriers that might be coming from federal or state.”
The overall safety of Central Coast communities is a primary concern for the nine mayors representing their regions.
“This is public health,” said Stewart. “This is business. Every aspect of our community, Diablo is part of it.”
“We all want the plant to be safe, but we also want to make sure that the lights stay on,” said Lee.
“It's important to say that the extension is needed, but let's do it safely,” said Osborne. “Let's do it respectfully, and let's make sure that we have a plan that allows both things to be successful.”
Public comment is being encouraged at this time and will be accepted through August 31.
Some of the topics focused on in the letter include safe operation, limiting the term of the extension, and preserving the 12,000 acres of land in consultation with its native people.