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California Senate committee holds special meeting to discuss the future of Diablo Canyon Power Plant

Posted at 6:54 PM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 22:49:54-04

The last nuclear power plant left in the state is set to close by 2025, but the debate over whether to keep the Diablo Canyon Power Plant open is picking up steam and it was the topic of a special State Senate committee hearing Thursday.

The meeting comes in response to the governor’s proposal to give PG&E $1.4 billion to keep Diablo Canyon running for at least five more years.

In the more than three-hour-long meeting, both sides voiced their opinions and concerns in support and opposition to extending the power plant’s operation.

“In order to be able to maintain reliability and to do in the most cost-effective way for California ratepayers and taxpayers, we need a bit more time with these resources," said Ana Matosantos from Governor Gavin Newsom's office.   

“You are being asked in the final days of this session to declare a very expensive winner in a competition that your electricity regulator hasn’t organized or even analyzed. You don’t know how much this will cost or who will pay," said Ralph Cavanagh, representing the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Representatives from the governor’s office pushed to keep Diablo Canyon running.

The biggest reasons include high electricity demand, climate change, and simply not enough clean resources to help keep the lights on if the power plant retires when planned.

Another factor pressuring a decision on the extension of the power plant is a federal funding application deadline approaching on September 6 that would provide $6 billion to continue operation.

PG&E representatives at the meeting addressed safety concerns associated with the power plant.

“Recent assessment of Diablo Canyon from the period of January 1st through December 31st of 2021 concluded that overall performance preserved public health and public safety and places the plant in top performing plants in the country," said Maureen Zawalick.

PG&E said, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, all structures are seismically safe.

“Two Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors located at Diablo Canyon that daily inspect the plant and assess safety, operations, and maintenance among other things," stated Zawalick.

San Luis Obispo County and its residents were represented by District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson.

“Diablo Canyon has been a huge issue in San Obispo County for quite some time. Its benefits have been rightly celebrated and its risks have been robustly debated," explained Gibson.

The county supervisor addressed the community’s uncertain economic future, conserving the land Diablo Canyon sits on, and advocating for no disruption of offshore wind plans.

Other concerns included whether there will be staffing available if the plant is extended along with taxpayers and ratepayers paying $75 more per kilowatt.

Public comment is still being accepted and suggestions to the Senate can be made through this website.

KSBY also reached out to PG&E and they issued the following statement:

"PG&E is committed to California’s clean energy future. As a regulated utility, we follow the energy policies of the state. We stand ready to support the state’s goals to ensure statewide electric reliability and minimize greenhouse gas emissions, as it transitions to a clean energy future. We remain focused on providing reliable, low-cost, emission-free energy to Californians, while safely operating one of the top performing plants in the country."