Draft Open Letter to Governor Newsom
April 30, 2022
The Honorable Gavin Newsom
Governor of California
Dear Governor Newsom,
We are heartened by recent reporting by the L.A. Times about your reconsideration of the need to save California’s last nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon. We thank you for representing the interest of California’s residents, its millions of energy ratepayers, the nation and the whole world, especially all the young people who will inherit the environment and climate that we leave for them.
The Biden administration, with strong bipartisan support, has determined that a robust nuclear energy industry is vital for our energy sovereignty, national security, economic development, and climate mitigation goals, and that our existing nuclear power plants are invaluable infrastructure assets.
In support of Biden’s Climate Plan, Secretary Jennifer Granholm has swiftly turned the provisions of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act into a fully funded and thoughtfully structured program to save threatened nuclear power plants such as Diablo Canyon. The new program, the Civil Nuclear Credit (CNC) program, recognizes that wholesale power markets generally do not adequately compensate nuclear plants for their full value as clean, reliable and resilient sources of emission-free electricity as well as a sources of high-paying long-term jobs which provide important local and regional economic activity. Until we have substantial electricity market reform to correct this problem, government action is well-justified to keep plants such as Diablo Canyon from being prematurely shuttered.
We commend you, Governor Newsom, for your courageous and visionary leadership. In coming out with your support for applying to the CNC program on behalf of Diablo Canyon, you have clearly exercised great techical diligence, considered the scientific and energy data, and have seen the importance of supporting a path that is in the best interests of California, its residents, and the environment, if not the preferences of some supporters and lobbyists.
In meeting the most difficult leadership challenge—directly contravening the interests of the most powerful lobbying groups in the state—you have shown true climate leadership. The closure of Diablo Canyon’s 3TW of annual carbon-free power as planned would open up California energy markets to all of nuclear’s energy competitors, especially fossil fuels. Apparently, they are extremely enthusiastic about the CPUC plan to replace a significant portion of that power with coal generation from out-of-state sources, obviously sending California emissions in the wrong direction.
Needless to say, the CPUC knows this is wrong but planned to take advantage of a CPUC emissions reporting loophole that enables them to legally not count the increased emissions resulting from California energy demand that is served by out-of-state sources but instead list them as “unspecified imports.” This deceitful misdirection should not be endorsed by you, the California legislature or any of our political or environmental leaders, and yet up until now, this terrible closure plan has been moving forward without any firm commitment to replace Diablo Canyon with 100% clean energy sources, with the endorsement of complicit environmental groups like the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth and the NRDC.
We are aware that there are a lot of issues to resolve and that addressing them will require a lot of political leadership. Nevertheless, they are addressable and there is no technical issue standing in the way of doing the right thing. Diablo Canyon is one of the best run nuclear power plants in the country. Unfortunately, CPUC rules do not compensate PG&E for maintaining existing plants: they only get compensated for putting new generation into service. PG&E also does not get credit for Diablo’s carbon-free energy, even though solar and wind plants can earn extra revenue through carbon-credit fees. These are some one of numerous poorly-structured incentives in the California energy system. Apart from PG&E’s resultant waivering, only bureaucratic and after-the-fact heightened regulations imposed well after Diablo Canyon was constructed, stand in the way of Diablo Canyon’s continued operation. It is our fervent hope that you can convene all players behind the effort to save Diablo Canyon 5 Hoover Dams worth of clean power and work instead to eliminate the emissions from the more than 60% of California power that still comes from Natural Gas and Coal and is actually causing the state’s emissions to remain high.
By saving Diablo Canyon, California will once again show the kind of global leadership that will help set an example for the world. In successfully implementing the clearly articulated recommendations of scientists and the IPCC—that there must be a greatly expanded role for nuclear if the world is to meet its energy security and climate goals—California can set an example for other nations in how to base decisions on facts and science rather than responding to ideological partisan politics or allowing flawed markets to make decisions that are misaligned with and, in fact, contrary to our own best interests.
Thank you very much for your courage and “out of the box” leadership on climate.
Signed below by:
 LA Times: California promised to close its last nuclear plant. Now Newsom is reconsidering, by Sammy Roth, April 29, 2022
 IPCC Characteristics of 4 Model Pathways (https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/spm/spm-c/spm3b/)