Pacific Gas & Electric says a bill introduced this week by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham to allow nuclear power to qualify as a renewable energy source won't keep Diablo Canyon from shutting down.
Currently, California's climate change laws do not allow all types of carbon emission-free sources of power to be counted towards emissions goals, according to a press release from Cunningham's office.
"Instead, state law effectively picks and chooses winners and losers in the renewable energy marketplace. It does so by excluding certain types of emission-free power sources, like nuclear and large-scale hydro projects, from its Renewables Portfolio Standard," the office of the assemblyman stated.
ACA 18 would create fairness in the renewable energy market, Cunningham said.
"Basic principles of fairness demand that we count all carbon-free power - including nuclear and large hydro - towards our climate goals. Furthermore, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible for the state to meet its 2030 and 2045 climate goals without counting nuclear and large hydro," Cunningham stated. "Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, the only operational nuclear plant in California, currently produces nine percent of the state's power without any carbon emissions - but it is slated for closure in 2025. Without Diablo's power production, there is no viable path to a statewide carbon-free energy grid.
"If we are serious about combating climate change, and we should be, both nuclear power and large hydropower must play an important role in our transition to an emission-free energy grid. Future generations - and present ratepayers - deserve nothing less than an 'all-of-the-above' approach to fighting climate change."
By counting nuclear energy as part of the state's climate goals, Cunningham says the amendment could potentially allow Diablo Canyon to stay operational past the 2025 closure date.
But PG&E says his proposal does not change any of their current plans.
"The State has pretty clearly indicated their positions on the future of nuclear power in California," said PG&E spokesperson Suzanne Hosn. "The CPUC approved the joint proposal and the state legislature passed Senate Bill 1090. We appreciate Assemblyman Cunningham's strong leadership to help California meet its clean energy goal."
Cunningham on Friday told KSBY: “The nuclear power plant is an asset owned by a company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Should the law change to count nuclear power as renewable, that asset could come considerably more valuable. Ultimately, it is up to the bankruptcy court and trustee as to what happens to PG&E assets.
“Regardless, SB 1090 funds will remain available for retaining the Diablo Canyon workforce and mitigating the economic impact of closure.”
Mothers for Nuclear is in favor of Cunningham's bill, saying in part, "Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham’s proposed Assembly Constitutional Amendment will help expand and protect California’s available options to take action on reducing emissions."