Dear Governor Newsom, California Legislators and CPUC
As you all well know, we are in the midst of an existential climate crisis and California and the whole world faces dire consequences if we do not successfully eliminate emissions from energy and other human activities as quickly as possible. Furthermore, AB32, signed into law by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, charged the state with converting to clean energy both expeditiously and at least cost possible. The only rational way to fulfill this mandate as written in the law is to preserve existing sources of carbon-free energy, shut down carbon-emitting energy sources and build enough new clean energy sources to replace the dirty energy that we shuttered.
But you are not doing that. Instead, you are forcing Diablo Canyon, commissioned in 1985 at a cost of over $15 billion (in today’s dollars), the source of more clean energy in California than any other single source of power, which has operated with almost 100% reliability and unblemished safely for 36 years to close prematurely. This irrational and self-defeating move is completely wrong. By all rational standards, California energy authorities need to shutter coal, oil, natural gas and then biofuel plants on a priority basis. Yet, for inexplicable reasons, you have decided that this is the moment to target and prematurely shutter the state’s largest source of clean energy.
We find this decision incredibly short-sighted on climate, wrong-headed economically and utterly counter-productive to our state’s urgent need to decarbonize everything our grid as quickly as possible. That doesn’t mean building new gas or diesel plants, as has been planned as a result of the scape-goating of Diablo Canyon. While shutting Diablo clearly enriches the vested interests of the parties that want to capture that market share, this utterly wrong decision unnecessarily robs the people of California of the benefits of an asset that they have paid for and whose wanton destruction will cost them an estimated $21 billion extra to replace existing clean energy with more clean energy—all of which could go to replacing sources of dirty energy, were the plant be allowed to keep running.
PG&E had already commenced with its NRC license renewal process, when they were held up by a political gang of bad actors. Then Governor Brown, whose family holds financial interests in the expansion of natural gas, and several non-representive, antinuclear and anti-science groups arrived at a back-room deal that forced PG&E to close the plant. Then, the CPUC agreed to approve this plan, against the public’s interest, despite knowing that this would destroy the public’s investment in this critical climate asset. Efforts to demand that Diablo’s clean, carbon-free energy be replaced entirely with other sources of clean energy were rebuffed as impossible. Now, the CPUC is already planning to commission new fossil fuel plants, increase imports from coal and natural gas and, all the while, this insane decision is being hailed by environmentalists as a good thing.
We demand and deserve better leadership than that. Archaic antagonism towards nuclear power stemming from propaganda spread in the 70s and 80s that pre-dated awareness of climate change and which only survives due to the willful denial of the facts and data of nuclear’s stellar performance (as proven out over its now sixty years of operating experience) should not be the basis for this decision. These same parties have conspired to deprive Diablo Canyon of having a level playing field for its sale of nuclear energy into CAISO auctions under California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)—yet they accuse nuclear power of being expensive—yet California sees natural gas spikes, never nuclear price spikes.
The RPS unfairly and erroneously prioritizes use of “renewable” energy (much of which emits carbon), rather than properly valuing and prioritizing Diablo’s carbon-free energy. Together with other politically-motivated legislative attacks on Diablo that changed the game rules for Diablo’s water cooling discharge systems, these antinuclear forces allied with natural gas and renewables have created a political environment which has collectively pressured PG&E to agree to prematurely close this climate critical power plant well before its useful life is over.
California’s SB100 requires the state to achieve 100% clean energy by 2045 from a combination of renewables and other types of clean energy—inclusive of nuclear power. Diablo Canyon would qualify to meet SB100’s clean energy standard—which is why its opponents seek to rush its closure. This is entirely unacceptable, wasteful and, as highlighted by the recent report from experts at Stanford and MIT assessing this decision, will cost to California an estimated $21 billion.
As climate-concerned citizens of California and non-resident supporters, we are petitioning to demand that California’s leaders Save our Clean Energy and allowed Diablo Canyon to continue to operate. This may mean giving PG&E an indefinite waiver on all new environmental rules imposed since it commensed operations. Diablo Canyon must be allowed to produce its carbon-free energy until there are are no more emissions from fossil fuel generation anywhere in the state or until deemed unsafe by the NRC. We need both its clean energy and its reliable, high-capacity performance in order to effect our transition to clean energy with the least impact to grid reliability—and shuttering this plant prematurely will virtually guarantee that we miss our climate goals, decrease grid reliability and increase our reliance on burning fossil fuels.
Fortunately, the U.S. Congress, recognizing that we need to preserve nuclear power, recently passed the Biden Infrastructure Bill that provides financial support to at-risk nuclear power plants. We further demand that the state seek to secure funds to enable PG&E to restart its NRC application and be allowed to immediately resume planning future operations for Diablo. California should provide a Zero Emission Credit to Diablo Canyon to ensure that it is not disadvantaged by CAISO rules that pay renewables for “capacity” but not nuclear until rules that provide equal priority with other carbon-free sources are passed. California has an obligation to operate Diablo until the NRC deems the plant at the end of its useful life, in order to focus on eliminating fossil fuel generation on a priority basis. Californian ratepayers have paid for Diablo Canyon over many decades, it has provided cost-effective carbon-free power for decades and we need it to continue to do so to keep California’s grid reliable until California no longer generates any carbon emissions from its use of either in-state or out-of-state energy generation.
[Please note: Specific language of the above petition is subject to further refinement, corrections and changes. Please comment on our Google Doc draft here.]
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