U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal said more community input is needed before the governor makes a final decision on the future of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant.
Gov. Gavin Newsom told the Los Angeles Times editorial board this week that his administration was considering pursuing federal funds to keep the San Luis Obispo County nuclear power plant open a bit longer.
PG&E, which owns Diablo Canyon, has plans to decommission the plant and cease operations by 2025.
The U.S. Department of Energy said earlier this month it is accepting applications for its $6 billion Civil Nuclear Credit Program to support continued operations of nuclear reactors.
“We would be remiss not to put that on the table as an option,” Gov. Newsom told the Los Angeles Times.
In a statement Friday, Rep. Carbajal, a Democrat who represents Santa Barbara County as well as San Luis Obispo County, advocated against a “stop-and-go approach” with the plant.
“I certainly appreciate the governor’s interest in continuing California’s energy transition and reducing carbon emissions, but too many Central Coast jobs and livelihoods are at stake to make this decision without community input,” Rep. Carbajal said. “If Gov. Newsom is changing course, it is imperative for him to include the same community stakeholders who were a part of the decision to retire DCPP — including PG&E, environmental stakeholders, nuclear safety advocates and labor — in any revisiting of that choice.”
“I hope that the governor’s comments will be followed up with outreach to myself and other community stakeholders who have worked for years to facilitate a consensus agreement that is informed by the San Luis Obispo County families who will be most impacted by his choices.”
Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham, R-San Luis Obispo, said on Twitter: “The tide is turning. I fully support the Governor in this effort.”
The Los Angeles Times reported a spokesperson for the governor later said he still would like to see the plant shuttered eventually.
According to PG&E, the Diablo Canyon facility emits no greenhouse gasses during electricity production. It is surrounded by about 12,000 acres of land maintained by PG&E.
The Department of Energy’s funding program is to help nuclear reactors at risk of closing because of financial hardship and is touted as a way to preserve good-paying clean energy jobs. The Biden administration has a goal of total clean energy production by 2035.
“U.S. nuclear power plants contribute more than half of our carbon-free electricity, and President Biden is committed to keeping these plants active to reach our clean energy goals,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement about the funding program.
The application deadline is May 19.
A recent UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll found 44% of Californians were in favor of building more nuclear power plants whereas 37% were opposed.