- A draft order under consideration by California regulators allows Pacific Gas and Electric to recover $190.4 million in costs associated with closing down the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility, but it slashes other utility requests including community assistance, setting aside talk of replacing the plant with carbon-free resources. PG&E originally wanted to recover more than $1.76 billion in costs related to retiring the facility.
- Last year, the utility struck a deal with several conservation groups to shutter the 2,240 MW facility and replace it with a combination of renewable energy, efficiency and energy storage.
- Natural Resources Defense Council said it will work with other settling parties to convince the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to "rewrite the proposed decision so that it is consistent with state policy and the public interest."
It's been almost 17 months since PG&E and several environmental groups struck a deal to shutter Diablo Creek. But judging by the reaction to a draft order, the debate is far from over.
The draft order, written by Acting Chief Administrative Law Judge Anne Simon, said authorizing those funds would require legislative approval. PG&E had requested to recover $1.3 billion for energy efficiency procurement that would partially replace the output of Diablo Canyon. To that end, the judge wrote "replacement procurement issues will be addressed in the Integrated Resource Planning proceeding." And PG&E had committed $85 million to local communities to reduce the burden of the shuttered plant.
NRDC in a statement said the draft is "deeply flawed, and completely misses a golden opportunity to enhance clean energy and better protect Californians from the growing dangers of climate change."
The group noted the draft decision "fails even to acknowledge, let alone discuss, the widely-supported recommendation to commit to replace all the output of Diablo Canyon with GHG-free resources."
PG&E also expressed disappointment in the adjustments, noting they could damage the "key focus" of the joint proposal.
"PG&E strongly disagrees with these proposed adjustments," the utility said in a statement. "All of these programs support the key focus of the joint proposal, which is having DCPP serve as a reliable and affordable clean energy bridge to 2025 while other greenhouse gas-free replacement resources are developed to replace the output we need to meet customer demand."
PG&E had also requested $363 million for Diablo Canyon employee retention and retraining, but the judge only authorized $171 million. Rising fixed costs and less of a need for the facility led to the closure agreement. Low gas prices and stagnant load growth have helped keep power prices down, forcing nuclear plants with high fixed costs to struggle.
Final oral arguments over the order will be held on Nov. 28, with hopes the CPUC will reach a decision by the end of the year.