Special Senate hearing on Diablo Canyon

The CA Senate will hold a special hearing Aug. 25 on extending operations at Diablo Canyon Power Plant past its planned 2025 closure, and the Central Coast is rallying around several key priorities.

The Legislature has one week to take action toward keeping the plant open for an additional 5 to 10 years to counter projected power shortages, and community leaders are urging the state not to lose sight of a comprehensive long-term plan.

With broad consensus, the region’s leaders are urgently pressing for prioritizing safety, conservation of the surrounding Diablo Lands, no delay in offshore wind development, and a clear, committed path to renewable energy goals — including short-term action and investment to advance the community vision for Diablo’s future as a clean-tech innovation park led by Cal Poly.

It’s a fast-moving situation, as the legislature speeds toward the end of its session Aug. 31. Thursday’s special hearing at the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications may be the session’s sole hearing on Diablo and could precede legislation to be introduced Friday.

We are hopeful this chorus of Central Coast voices results in bold investments both for the future of Diablo Canyon and our region and for the state and national clean energy future.

Sen. John Laird is pushing for a comprehensive, aggressive plan to speed the transition to clean energy, likening the imperative to the nation’s post-WWII Marshall Plan to shore up European democracies.

Screenshot from state workshop on Diablo CanyonAt Friday’s workshop, Laird, who remains undecided on extending the life of the plant due to questions about cost, spent fuel storage and other concerns, blamed the current situation on a lack of adequate planning.

Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, a vocal proponent for keeping the plant open and longtime advocate for development of offshore wind, agreed, calling for an all-of-the-above plan, with federal and county representatives following suit.

Here’s a roundup of their perspectives on a renewable energy roadmap.

“We can’t afford to make this mistake again. … If we were to continue to operate Diablo Canyon … we must use the time provided by that extension to come up with a Marshall Plan to move us toward the state’s ambitious goal of zero carbon electricity by 2045.” — Sen. John Laird

“We do need to have a plan, because one thing that has changed in the years since the decision was made to decommission the plant in 2025 is that we simply are not where we thought we’d be with renewable energy production and coupling that with storage.” —Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham

“Congressman Carbajal believes strongly there is a resolution that can be reached on this issue that does not jeopardize California’s energy reliability, nor endanger future clean energy ventures that we have on the way here on the Central Coast, like the first-in-the-West offshore wind project, which is slated for lease sale off the Morro Bay coast later this year. … If there is a change to the last sunset agreement, it should not be at the detriment of future clean energy projects that literally cannot get online without the eventual closure of Diablo Canyon.” —District Representative Greg Haas on behalf of U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal

“Our community has engaged a broad range of stakeholders in looking at what in particular the economic future of our county is going to look like. … A date certain is obviously important for our ability to plan for our economic future, but coupled with that is … a renewed commitment to renewables or an increased commitment to renewables, an all-out effort to do what we have to do.” —SLO County Board of Supervisors Chair Bruce Gibson

“A shift in the operational timeline of Diablo Canyon power plant should not delay or adversely impact renewable energy development in the region, as it can be compatible with offshore wind development and allow for parallel phase development of a cleantech innovation hub as envisioned by the community in a multi-stakeholder letter released in May just this year. With Cal Poly as our lead successor entity to advance renewable energy innovation and commercialization, the Diablo Canyon Parcel P site will further the state’s renewable energy goals. We can do this all together.” —SLO County Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg

The letter from the nine mayors also cited priorities around planning for the site’s future, as well as those concerning mitigation funds, safety and conservation, as did a recent legislative update from the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.

 

Screenshot of mayors letter to the governor“We urge the Governor’s Office to partner with our region and invest in renewable energy opportunities now and remove regulatory barriers that hinder the deployment of renewable energy such as wind, solar, geothermal, battery storage, etc.,” the mayors’ letter reads. “These opportunities include our Clean Tech Innovation Park Concept with Cal Poly as well as the development of offshore wind in the Morro Bay Wind Energy Area.”

 

 

Screenshot of the SLO Chamber video on Diablo“Any lag between the closure, decommissioning and repurposing will be an economic and community loss, so we all need to keep our eye on the ball regardless of what happens moving forward.  … We need to accelerate the pace at which renewable energy sources and storage are brought online to ensure that California has safe, reliable and distributed power sources for generations to come, and the Central Coast can play a big part in being home to some of those new sources and storage opportunities.” —San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Government Relations Director Molly Kern

 

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