- California lawmakers have introduced legislation to ensure the state does not turn to greenhouse gas-emitting technologies when replacing the output from the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, as well as protecting communities and workers impacted by the decision.
- The California Public Utilities Commission approved the closure in January, but environmental advocates say regulators' plan "has multiple shortcomings" that the new legislation would address.
- The Natural Resources Defense Council was party to a 2016 agreement that would have ensured Pacific Gas and Electric's shutdown of Diablo Canyon included the protections, but the CPUC's decision earlier this year left out many of those provisions.
After regulators nixed several conservation-minded provisions from their decision to shutter Diablo Canyon, advocates have turned to the legislative process.
"Unfortunately, the recent CPUC decision failed to provide adequate assurance that the retirement would not result in a spike in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions," NRDC said in a statement.
The bipartisan SB 1090 was coauthored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning and Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R). The bill includes three provisions that mirror pillars that were included in the 2016 agreement reached by PG&E, NRDC and Friends of the Earth, labor groups and others.
The provision requires the CPUC to provide transition support for communities around Diablo Canyon, ensuring essential services and emergency response are available at least until the plant closes. A second section requires the commission to fully fund the utility's worker retention program, which will allow PG&E to retain a skilled workforce until the plant is retired. The third section addresses the need for clean energy resources to be used to replace Diablo Canyon, to avoid emissions spikes.
The CPUC's 5-0 vote allowed PG&E to recover $241.2 million for retirement costs, most of which will go towards employee retention. Commissioners rejected the plan PG&E's put forth to replace the plant's capacity with renewable energy and efficiency. Instead, regulators said the replacement resources would be determined through the utility's integrated resource plan process.
SB 1090 has a "diverse array" of supporters, according to NRDC, including the utility, a coalition of local cities and counties, plant workers and other environmental groups.
The operating license for Diablo Canyon Unit 1 expires in 2024 and Unit 2 expires in 2025. Regulators did indicate, however, they would look first to non-emitting resources.
"It is the intent of the Commission to avoid any increase in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the closure of Diablo Canyon," the commission wrote, and underlined, in its decision.
In the order, regulators told PG&E that during the IRP proceeding the utility "should be prepared to present scenarios assuming Diablo Canyon retirement dates prior to 2024/2025, including ones that demonstrate no more than a de minimis increase in the greenhouse gas emissions of its electric portfolio."