Cal Poly should lead Diablo Canyon’s next chapter

An open letter advancing our vision for a world-class clean tech innovation park

To California Central Coast residents, clean energy champions and innovators, and anyone interested in advancing an abundant, sustainable energy future:

Where the Diablo Canyon Power Plant sits on California’s Central Coast, we see a new future as a hub of clean energy innovation. We see a research and development campus where industry and academia can hatch and collaborate on emerging renewable technologies. We see an expansion of existing desalination capabilities, a harbor for blue economy activity, a community center for Chumash heritage education and celebration, and a critical platform for enabling California to harness the wind energy right off our coast.

 

 

This is no idle daydream. One year ago, stakeholders spanning government, higher education, business, labor, tribal and conservation organizations came together to pursue a shared vision for the future of Diablo Canyon’s 585-acre industrial area. We’ve spent the last 12 months expanding the coalition and crystalizing the vision.

We’ve convened top experts in large-scale redevelopment and nuclear decommissioning, consulted national renewable energy researchers and industry leaders, explored suitable possibilities, weighed challenges and devised a conceptual site plan for a mixed-use innovation park supporting research, education and commercial enterprise. We’ve built strong consensus around what all the experts agree is a generational opportunity.

Put simply, this unique industrial site offers unrivaled energy assets for pioneering the next chapter of our state and nation’s energy independence and resilience. With high-power transmission lines (500 kV and 230 kV) connecting to the state’s electricity grid, extensive existing facilities, and proximity to the offshore wind development coming to the waters off our coast, this site can accelerate global clean-energy innovation — all while creating jobs and economic benefit for Central Coast residents and retaining the vast surrounding lands for conservation and tribal stewardship.

From our collective due diligence through the last year, we firmly believe that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, with support from public-private partnerships and investments, can be the catalyst for this vision. 

Cal Poly is a trusted community partner that contributes significantly to the region’s economy, community and social fabric. It’s also a widely regarded applied research powerhouse, with access to the extensive resources of the 23-campus California State University system and an established national network of donors, supporters and industry partners. Complemented by a combination of commercial enterprise and state- and federally funded research labs, the university’s lauded Learn by Doing ethos can enhance and propel the vision of a hands-on center of innovation and collaboration. With an extensive history of capital project execution, stewardship and partnerships with Pacific Gas and Electric, Cal Poly is ideally poised as the logical successor entity to usher in an extraordinary new era for Diablo Canyon and the Central Coast.

The Central Coast is already a leading nexus of renewable energy, with massive utility-scale solar farms, the world’s largest battery storage plant under development in Morro Bay and the West Coast’s largest offshore wind energy area slated for lease auction this fall, among other projects. Add in a substantial skilled energy workforce and energy-exporting legacy, and the Central Coast is positioned as a primary player in the nation’s clean-energy future.

Details big and small need to be hashed out. Among them: synchronizing development of future-use activities with the plant decommissioning; ensuring local businesses and workers are employed in the multi-billion dollar decommissioning process to the maximum extent possible; and remaining flexible to evolution as industry partners, regulatory processes, and investment come together.

But the clock is ticking. With strong community alignment behind Cal Poly, we are proactively seeking the long-term partnerships and investments needed to realize the vision of a climate-change innovation hub that supports good-paying, future-oriented jobs for our skilled workforce.

The Central Coast is already playing a pivotal role in driving our state’s sustainable economy forward, and we invite you to join us in unlocking the potential of this bold vision.

 

Sincerely,

U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal
24th District, U.S. House of Representatives

 

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham
35th District, CA State Assembly

 

Supervisor Bruce Gibson
Board Chair, County of San Luis Obispo

 

Kaila Dettman
Executive Director, The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County

 

Vice Mayor Carlyn Christianson
City of San Luis Obispo

 

Mayor John Headding
City of Morro Bay

 

Mayor Caren Ray Russom
City of Arroyo Grande

 

Glenn Morris
CEO, Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce

 

Jane Swanson
President, Mothers for Peace

Senator John Laird
17th District, CA State Senate

 

Jeffrey D. Armstrong
President, Cal Poly

 

Melissa James
President/CEO, REACH

 

Joshua Medrano
Executive Secretary & Treasurer, Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council

 

Mayor Jeff Lee
City of Grover Beach

 

Mayor Ed Waage
City of Pismo Beach

 

Nicole Moore
Interim CEO, South County Chambers of Commerce

 

Chuck Davison
CEO, Visit SLO CAL

 

 

Behind the vision

Behind this vision is a thorough process that brought in top experts from around the country and engaged a broad spectrum of community participants. Chief among them:

Community Workshop

A cross sector of community organizations from local, state and federal government alongside business, higher education, and the community interests of tribal, environmental, and labor, and others were consulted in the development of this community vision through 1:1 interviews and a community workshop facilitated by R3 LLC and The Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative over the last 9 months.

The community voices that contributed to this vision included:

+ Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility
+ City of San Luis Obispo
+ City of Pismo Beach
+ Halpin Leadership Industries
+ Marine Alliances Consulting
+ Mothers for Peace
+ PG&E
+ Sierra Club Santa Lucia Chapter
+ Surfrider Foundation SLO Chapter

as well as representatives of the Diablo MOU partnership:

+ Office of Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24)
+ Office of Senator John Laird (SD-17)
+ Office of Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (AD-35)
+ County of San Luis Obispo
+ Cal Poly
+ The Land Conservancy of SLO County
+ ytt Northern Chumash Nonprofit
+ Tri-Counties Building Trades and Construction Council
+ REACH

R3 LLC

R3 is the management team of RACER Trust, which was the nation’s largest environmental response and remediation trust when it was created by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in 2011 to oversee disposition of properties owned by General Motors Corp. RACER remains one of the largest holders of industrial property in the United States.

Learn more about RACER Trust

The Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative

The Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative a national think tank and clearinghouse that works to guide communities navigating nuclear closure and community revitalization. 

Learn more about The Nuclear Decommissioning Collaborative

The National Renewable Energy Lab

NREL is a federally funded research and development center that works to advance commercial adoption of emerging renewable energy technologies and innovations.

Learn more about The National Renewable Energy Lab

RRM Design Group

RRM is a multi-disciplinary design firm of architects, landscape architects, planners and civil engineers that has led award-winning projects throughout California.

Learn more about RRM Design Group

Endorse the vision

Join the voices championing this vision for Diablo Canyon’s next chapter.
Have a commercial or research interest? Reach out here.

Review detailed information on PG&E’s process and technical specifications for the future repurposing of the facilities.

What about the lands?

This vision encompasses Parcel P, the plant’s 585-acre industrial site — just a fraction of the more than 12,000 surrounding acres of pristine land and 14 miles of undeveloped coastline between Montaña de Oro State Park and Avila Beach. We support the complementary efforts being undertaken by a collection of stakeholders to determine the best path for conserving the unique natural resources and cultural heritage of this remarkable piece of land.

What is the Diablo MOU?

Leaders from federal, state and county government, Cal Poly, The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County, the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Nonprofit and the Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council have partnered together on the future use of Diablo Canyon. The partnership’s shared vision embraces job creation and clean energy innovation at the Parcel P site while honoring the complementary efforts on the surrounding lands.

Read More

Models of transformation

Transformational projects around the country offer examples of bold collaboration and partnerships to model. Among the most recent: a climate-focused research and education hub taking shape on an abandoned island military base in New York City; the University of Washington and Amazon teaming up to launch the Science Hub to advance innovation in robotics and artificial intelligence; and Colorado  partnering with the National Renewable Energy Lab and others to build a Global Energy Park.

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