- A bill insert sent to Pacific Gas and Electric customers shows increased rates for eight years related to the proposed closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility, the Mercury News reports.
- PG&E had said there would be no long-term costs to customers associated with the decision, leading advocates to criticize the utility. The company says customers are still expected to benefit in the long term.
- The utility filed a plan to close the plant in August, but because it will take years to replace the plant's 2,240 MW of carbon-free power, PG&E intends to operate Diablo Canyon until the end of its units' licenses in 2024 and 2025.
The Mercury News reports that average customers would see rates rise about 1.6% from 2018 to 2025, with PG&E collecting $1.77 billion in revenue over the 8-year timespan.
A PG&E spokesman told Utility Dive, "we anticipate the short term rate increase will be offset in the long term."
"Relicensing and operating Diablo Canyon through 2044 would likely have had a higher overall cost for our customers than replacing it with a mix of renewables and energy efficiency," Blair Jones said in an email. He noted lower demand, declining costs for renewable power and the estimated costs to comply with once-through cooling regulations, as reasons closing the plant is more cost-effective.
Closing the plant is aimed at testing whether its 18,000 GWh of annual output can be replaced by new zero carbon resources and reduced usage without costing customers more. PG&E plans to use a cocktail of energy efficiency measures, renewable energy and energy storage to replace the lost generation. While that plan will cost ratepayers now, the utility estimates it will be less overall than if the plant remained open past 2025.
Nuclear advocates are unimpressed. Environmental Progress President Michael Shellenberger told the Mercury News, that "it’s outrageous and it is totally deceptive what PG&E said before compared with what is actually going to happen."
Environmental Progress is a pro-nuclear nonprofit and has urged the state legislature to review PGE's plan, instead of the California Public Utilities Commission. Consumer Watchdog's Liza Tucker told the newspaper that "this all has to be watched very carefully. ... That nuclear waste has to be disposed of. And that will be expensive.”