Local legislators support Diablo Canyon

22 February 2022

The legislative body for San Luis Obispo County has expressed its support for keeping open the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, voting to ask California Governor Gavin Newsom to ensure Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) has the necessary permits to keep the state's only remaining nuclear power plant in operation.

Diablo Canyon supporters rally for clean energy in December 2021 (Image: @savecleanenergy)

The five-member San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on 15 February voted in favour of a motion to write to Newsom, urging him to "work with PG&E to ensure that they have access to all the permits necessary to keep Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant operational."

The vote followed testimony from Massachusetts Institute of Technology nuclear engineering professor Jacopo Buongiorno, co-author of a study published last November which reassessed Diablo Canyon's potential value for helping California meet the challenges of climate change as well as its potential for powering water desalination and hydrogen fuel production. That study - An Assessment of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant for Zero-Carbon Electricity, Desalination, and Hydrogen Production - found that keeping Diablo Canyon would be economically and environmentally attractive, reducing carbon emissions from the electricity sector while saving ratepayers billions of dollars and alleviating the need to develop large areas of land for renewable energy production just to replace the facility's capacity.

The marketplace and regulatory problems that led to PG&E's August 2016 announcement of its plans to retire Diablo Canyon's two pressurised water reactors at the end of their current 40-year operating licences (November 2024 for unit 1 and August 2025 for unit 2) remain, PG&E Director of Government Relations Tom Jones told the meeting. "So with that, the state policies have not been realigned that would afford any further operation for Diablo Canyon. We remain on course for decommissioning in 2025 at this time," he said.

Three members of the Board of Governors voted in favour of the motion, with one voting against, and one - former PG&E employee Dawn Ortiz-Legg - expressing her support but recusing herself from her vote.

Buongiorno is one of over 70 scientists, entrepreneurs and academics who earlier this month wrote to Newsom calling for California to reverse the decision to prematurely shut down Diablo Canyon. Signatories of the letter span a range of disciplines including climate science, marine biology, air pollution research, energy, planetary science and land conservation, and include former US Energy Secretary Steven Chu and science historian Richard Rhoades.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News