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Diablo Canyon | PG&E can close nuclear plant, commission says

In a landmark decision, the California Public Utilities Commission has decided PG&E can close Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in 2025 — and San Luis Obispo County still won’t get its much-desired $85 million mitigation settlement to support the community through the shutdown.

PG&E will get more than expected for its employee retention and retraining program, however.

The commission unanimously voted to approve the application Thursday, saying the utility company presented a reasonable pathway toward a more energy-efficient future.

“With this timing in mind, and this decision today, we chart a new energy future,” Commissioner Michael Picker said. “We agree the time has come.”

PG&E announced in June 2016 that it planned to close the state’s only remaining nuclear power plant by 2025 as part of a joint agreement with labor and environmental organizations.

The company agreed to increase investment in energy efficiency, renewable power and electricity storage to offset the power that will no longer be produced by the nuclear plant.

Commissioner Liane M. Randolph applauded the decision, saying it was a step forward for the state.

“It moves California away from the era of nuclear power and toward the era of zero-carbon renewable energy,” she said. “I will be voting in favor.”

PG&E spokesman Blair Jones said the decision “represented a significant milestone in the planning to meet California’s ambitious clean-energy vision.”

“We appreciate the CPUC’s thoughtful consideration of this complex issue and its approval of certain elements,” he said. “While we are disappointed that they did not approve the full employee retention program, as well as the community impact mitigation and energy efficiency programs, we are appreciative that the CPUC took the positive step to increase the amount of funding for employee retention beyond their original proposed decision.”

Jones added that the company will be meeting with labor, community and environmental groups in the coming days to discuss “next steps and the path forward.”

San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace applauded the decision Thursday, noting that the commission also left room in its decision for the plant to close sooner than 2025 should “facts change in a manner that indicates Diablo Canyon should be retired earlier.”

“The commission made a well-reasoned and fair decision in this case,” Mothers for Peace attorney Sabrina Venskus said. “We are pleased that the commission acknowledged that earlier closure of Diablo may be warranted, and has built into its final decision the possibility of challenging the continued operation of Diablo well before the anticipated 2024/2025 shutdown.”

Source: The Tribune

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