By 2030, California hopes to gain 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources and a proposal signed today brings Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) closer to that goal. Together with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), labor unions, and environmental groups like Friends of the Earth, PG&E signed a historic proposal to close Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, the last nuclear power plant remaining in the state, by 2025 and replace the power it generates with renewables.
Diablo Canyon currently provides around 20 percent of electricity in PG&E’s service territory. It accounts for six percent of California’s electricity mix and nine percent of in-state power generation. Controversy has shrouded the nuclear power plant in the past; the reactors are only 650 yards away from one fault line, and others lie nearby. Back in 2013 the Union of Concerned Scientists said the power plant wasn’t “enforcing seismic regulations.”
PG&E, which provides electricity to 16 million people across central and northern California, owns the reactors. They’ll withdraw a request for a license extension, let the license expire and switch over to renewables. PG&E’s renewable energy goals are actually more audacious than California’s; they aim for 55 percent energy from renewables by 2031.
Wind and solar power will be among the renewables to replace nuclear power at the plant. This is the first time that a nuclear plant retirement has contained a commitment to switch to renewable sources. NDRC estimates the proposal will save PG&E customers money as well – a cool $1 billion.
NRDC President Rhea Suh said in a press release, “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. 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.”