Renewables to replace California nuke plant

By Jodi Delapaz

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WASHINGTON, July 7, 2016 - The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), along with Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E), labor unions and other environmental groups, have signed a proposal to replace the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, operating in San Luis Obispo County, California, with zero-emissions energy within nine years.

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NRDC says the proposal marks the first time any nuclear facility retirement has included a replacement commitment of no carbon emissions.

The generation from California's last remaining nuclear power plant, which began operating in 1985, will be replaced with programs that reduce electricity needs and include more wind and solar power. The plan includes programs that compensate customers for reducing their electricity use during peak periods (demand response) and increasing capacity to store wind and solar energy for later use.

Under the Joint Proposal, PG&E will withdraw its request for a 20-year extension of its Nuclear Regulatory Commission licenses for Diablo Canyon's two generating units near San Luis Obispo. The current licenses for Diablo's two units, located about 250 miles south of San Francisco, expire in November 2024 and August 2025, respectively, NRDC says.

PG&E says the two units produce a total of 18,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually, nearly 10 percent of California's energy portfolio and enough energy to meet the needs of more than 3 million Northern and Central Californians.

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The proposal also includes an increase in PG&E's target for renewables to 55 percent, effective in 2030, as compared to the state's statutory goal of 50 percent renewables by that date.

“Energy efficiency and clean renewable energy from the wind and sun can replace aging nuclear plants - and this proves it. The key is taking the time to plan. Nuclear power versus fossil fuels is a false choice based on yesterday's options,” says NRDC President Rhea Suh. “The Diablo Canyon solution is the way of the future. Even as nuclear plants near retirement, we can cut our carbon footprint with energy efficiency and renewable power. Our families, our businesses and our children will be the better for it."

Also signing the proposal were Friends of the Earth, Environment California, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, the Coalition of California Utility Employees and the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.

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