This is the second in a series of editorials on California’s clean energy future. In this installment, Geisha Williams, president, Electric, discusses the joint proposal on the Diablo Canyon Power Plant and how we are working with others to change the energy landscape.
How do we build a better California — with safe, clean, reliable and affordable energy?
We do it together.
That’s exactly what happened with the historic announcement that PG&E, the state’s largest electricity provider, was working with the environmental and the labor communities to address California’s changing energy landscape. We found a way to accomplish something few had thought possible. And we did it together.
Unveiled in June, the joint proposal would replace power produced by two nuclear reactors at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant with a clean, cost-effective portfolio of renewables, energy efficiency and storage. The eight- to nine-year transition period will provide the time for an orderly closure — without falling back on fossil fuel to take up the slack and cause greenhouse-gas emissions to spike, as has happened elsewhere.
Included in the historic agreement are PG&E, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment California and Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 1245 and the Coalition of California Utility Employees.
The agreement also includes PG&E’s commitment to a 55 percent renewable energy target in 2031, an unprecedented voluntary commitment by a major U.S. energy company.
The agreement reflects the reality that solar and wind production will increasingly play a major part in California’s energy future and the full output of Diablo Canyon will no longer be necessary.
We also understand that Diablo Canyon has played an immense role in the regional economy of the Central Coast. In support of its highly skilled workforce and the Central Coast communities — and to continue the plant’s unbroken record of safe, reliable service during its remaining operating years — PG&E will provide incentives to retain employees, and a retraining and development program to facilitate redeployment of a portion of plant personnel to the decommissioning project or to other positions within the company. In addition, the proposal includes payments by PG&E to San Luis Obispo County designed to offset declining property taxes because of the loss of the plant.
Diablo Canyon has been a valuable asset for PG&E and for California. When its operating licenses expire at the end of their 40-year terms, the plant will have produced affordable, GHG-free energy at a time when renewable sources were either unavailable or exorbitantly priced. It took us through times when coal-generated electricity was still in use and natural gas prices skyrocketed.
But times have changed, and under California’s energy policies, the plant is just not needed beyond its original licensed life. We recognized that in the fight against climate change, collaboration is the key to success. We’re going to need to work together — and do so on an enormous scale.
That’s why we take great pride in the joint proposal. The agreement we forged reflects a new commitment by key stakeholders in California to work collaboratively to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and modernize the state’s energy grid.
And it’s yet another sign that when we at PG&E say that together, we’re building a better California, that’s exactly what we mean.
Tim Fitzpatrick is PG&E’s vice president of corporate relations and chief communications officer. Follow Tim on Twitter @PGE_Tim.