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Published on June 26th, 2016 | by Glenn Meyers

PG&E Will Close Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, Using Renewables Instead

Pacific Gas & Electric has announced its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant will close.

CleanTechnica reports the electricity provider for northern California has reached a deal with environmental and labor groups to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and replace it with renewable energy + greater energy efficiency + energy storage.

Diablo_Canyon_nuclear_PGE_flickr_dirtsailor2003_750_502_s

On June 21, PG&E provided this perspective:

“Reflecting California’s changing energy landscape, PG&E today announced a Joint Proposal with labor and leading environmental organizations that would increase investment in energy efficiency, renewables and storage beyond current state mandates while phasing out PG&E’s production of nuclear power in California by 2025.”

In a statement, PG&E chairman and CEO Tony Earley said, “California’s energy landscape is changing dramatically with energy efficiency, renewables and storage being central to the state’s energy policy. As we make this transition, Diablo Canyon’s full output will no longer be required. As a result, we will not seek to relicense the facility beyond 2025 pending approval of the joint energy proposal.”

The parties to the Joint Proposal include PG&E, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, Coalition of California Utility Employees, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment California, and Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.

Under the terms of the deal, PG&E is committing to source 55% of its power from renewables by 2031 compared to the 50%-by-2030 renewable energy mandate in place in California. The utility is expected to propose a plan to the California Public Utilities Commission to replace the generation from the 2,240 MW plant with clean energy resources.

Closure timeline

As part of the Joint Proposal, a planned eight- to nine-year transition period will provide the time to begin the process to plan and replace Diablo Canyon’s energy with new GHG-free replacement resources.

UtilityDive reporter Gavin Bade added this relevant outlook:

“The framework for Diablo Canyon’s retirement could provide a model for other jurisdictions facing nuclear closures. In May, an official from the Nuclear Energy Institute said as many as 20 plants could be at risk for retirement nationwide, which could put pressure on state efforts to comply with the Clean Power Plan if they are replaced with fossil generation. “

Image via Flickr: dirtsailor2003






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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers is editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributor to CleanTechnica, and founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he’s been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.



  • John Smith

    As long as we keep exporting our industry to China and elsewhere this will work….we can all enjoy our government welfare and basking in the sun…..

    • GCO

      Really? Let’s look at economic output (respective GDPs for 2014) per capita, shall we:
      California: 2.31 T$, 39M people ⇨ 59 k$/p
      USA : 17.42 T$, 323M people ⇨ 54 k$/p
      China : 10.36 T$, 1.37 billions ⇨ 7.5 k$/p

      It’s also interesting to compare GDP with electricity usage (just to dispel any suggestion that they may be tied):
      California: 297 TW⋅h (2014) ⇨ 7.8 $GDP/MW⋅h
      USA : 4094 TW⋅h (2014) ⇨ 4.3 $GDP/MW⋅h
      China : 5200 TW⋅h (2012) ⇨ 2 $GDP/MW⋅h

  • Brian

    Great news.

  • Peter Olins

    What a shame. Nuclear is ideal for providing reliable base-load power, with minimal carbon footprint.

    • Brian

      Yes, except for storing the waste for the next 100,000 years. Nobody wants the nuclear waste in their back yard. Yucca mountain was rejected by the people who live close to it.

      • Peter Olins

        I agree that waste from energy production needs to be considered. However, I would argue that storing nuclear waste concentrated in a few sites where it can be controlled is far preferable to carbon waste that is evenly distributed through the atmosphere and surface of the ocean.

        With nuclear waste, only the country or region benefitting from the power has to deal with the consequences, while with carbon, the whole world pays.

        • Brian

          Yes, that’s true, but with the high cost and long lead times to build a nuclear power plant, we could build wind farms or solar power plants in a fractrion of the time, and a fraction of the cost. Nuclear power also uses precious water. Solar and wind power continue to plunge in price, and nuclear, coal, and natural gas all have their environmental problems, as well as being more expensive. Solar also can be decentralized and put on homes. The days of a big fossil fuel power plant, or even nuclear with it’s waste issues providing power, are fading. Solar and wind are becoming so cheap, that natural gas, dirty coal, and nuclear can’t compete., so they will go the way of the dinosaurs.

    • GCO

      Nuclear looks like a low-carbon option — until someone does the math.
      Closing Diablo Creek is actually good for the climate (and our wallets).
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/amorylovins/2016/06/22/close-a-nuclear-plant-save-money-and-carbon-improve-the-grid-says-pge/

      • Peter Olins

        Thanks for the link to the Lovins article—very interesting and informative. I’ll have to take his numbers at face value, since this is outside my area of expertise.

        The topics he didn’t discuss were how to manage fluctuations in supply/demand for solar and wind, the challenges in upgrading to distribution system, and the local and political objections to any new development—”not in my back yard”.

        I was not convinced by his claim about predicted declines in demand: how much of this is really due to shifts in energy-intensive activity to China—which is adding coal power plants at an amazing rate. In effect, the U.S. exports a substantial fraction of its carbon-footprint. In addition, with increased temperatures over the next 50 years, there will be increasing demand for energy-sucking air conditioning.

      • Peter Olins

        Thanks!

  • TimS

    ok natural gas/fracking is renewable

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