Diablo Canyon will help keep the lights on in California

Diablo Canyon will help keep the lights on in California

Diablo Canyon will help keep the lights on in California
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant near San Luis Obispo, CA.

Assemblymember Tim Grayson(Oct. 19, 2022) — In years past, our community has been hit particularly hard by Public Safety Power Shutoffs and power outages.

These outages are more than inconvenient – they can be extremely dangerous for seniors, individuals who need refrigerated medicine and electric medical equipment, and anyone without alternate access to cooling during heat waves.

As climate change continues to place additional strains on our electricity grid, it’s become more important than ever to have reliable zero-carbon energy. That is why I was proud to support a bill from Sen. Bill Dodd to extend the life of Diablo Canyon, California’s only nuclear power facility.

Diablo Canyon sits along the coast near San Luis Obispo and has been in operation since 1985. Every year, the plant produces 18,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity, which is equal to the energy needs of more than 3 million people. A full history of the power plant can be found on diablocanyonpanel.org.

In June 2016, PG&E, the operator of the plant, announced plans to close Diablo Canyon. The California Public Utilities Commission would later approve the plan. In 2018, it was decided that Diablo Canyon would be fully decommissioned by 2025.

Caught off guard

Then in August 2020, California experienced forced rotating electricity outages for the first time in 20 years. Nearly half a million customers were caught off-guard by the first outage, which came during the middle of a heat wave affecting most of the western United States and when many Californians were working or staying home to stop the spread of COVID-19.

It is simply unacceptable for the fifth largest economy in the world to not have enough electricity to keep the lights on for its people, and decommissioning Diablo Canyon would exacerbate that problem.

Currently, California is thousands of megawatts short of the electricity we need, and this power plant supplies nearly 10% of the state’s total electricity – and 17% of California’s zero-carbon electricity overall.

Commonsense solution

At the end of our legislative session this year, my colleagues and I – led by Dodd – worked with the administration to find a commonsense solution that would keep Diablo Canyon open beyond 2025, protect ratepayer’s pocketbooks and ensure California continues to make progress on reaching net zero carbon emissions. The bill (SB 846), which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law, credits market revenues back to ratepayers and limits the ability for the operator to earn profits.

SB 846 also invests $1 billion to support a Clean Energy Reliability Investment Plan to accelerate California’s procurement of renewable energy and the deployment of clean energy resources. And, importantly, this new law will help improve reliability of energy service.

It is my hope that our action to keep Diablo Canyon operating will help us keep the lights on for California families, while minimizing carbon emissions.

But the reality is that until we address the root causes of climate change, we will continue to face problems like power-rationing and service disruptions. That’s why I was proud this year to help pass a landmark plastic pollution reduction bill, establish a statewide goal of carbon neutrality by no later than 2024, and support a budget investment of nearly $54 billion to fight climate change, including cutting air pollution by 60%.

If you’d like to learn more about my work to protect our environment and energy grid, or other matters important to you, call my Concord office at 925-521-1511.