by Daniel J. Graeber
San Francisco (UPI) Jun 22, 2016
California utility Pacific Gas & Electric said it was closing down the Diablo Canyon plant, its last nuclear facility, to adapt to a changing energy landscape.
"California's energy landscape is changing dramatically with energy efficiency, renewables and storage being central to the state's energy policy," PG&E Corp, Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley said in a statement. "As we make this transition, Diablo Canyon's full output will no longer be required."
The deal was made in collaboration with environmental advocacy groups like Friends of the Earth. Under a so-called Plan B scheme envisioned by the group, the loss of nuclear power from Diablo Canyon would be offset by advances in renewable energy as well as efficiency efforts.
The plans calls for commitments from the utility to rely on renewable energy to meet 55 percent of consumer demand by 2031, exceeding the state guidelines set for 2030 by 5 percent. Licenses for Diablo Canyon will have expired by then.
By 2020, sun-generated power, not including small-scale rooftop solar, is projected to account for about 11 percent of all power sold by three California utility companies, which sell 68 percent of the electricity provided to retail customers in the state.
Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, said the latest agreement with PG&E was historic in that it sets definitive dates for the end to nuclear power in the state.
"It lays out an effective roadmap for a nuclear phase-out in the world's sixth largest economy, while assuring a green energy replacement plan to make California a global leader in fighting climate change," Picha said.
The advocacy group said the phase-out plan now heads to the state utility commission, though Friends of the Earth and its regional counterparts said they reserve the right to continue monitoring Diablo Canyon.
California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, said nuclear power carries with it some inherent risks and the Diablo Canyon facility is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. The agreement, he said, marks the transition to a new way of energy thinking.
"This transition will make our energy sources less volatile, more cost-effective, and benefit the air we breathe," he said.
PG&E said the transition should not result in an increase in consumer rates.
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