California, the world’s sixth largest economy, has announced it will go nuclear free as it replaces the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors with renewable energy.
Californian utility PG&E announced a Joint Proposal with labor and leading environmental organizations this week that intends to increase investment in energy efficiency, renewables, and energy storage, beyond current state mandates, while at the same time phasing out nuclear power in California by 2025. Specifically, PG&E announced that it intends to replace the two nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon with “a cost-effective, greenhouse gas free portfolio of energy efficiency, renewables, and energy storage.”
And according to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), the PG&E’s Joint Proposal could end up saving its customers at least $1 billion.
“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,” said 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.”
The Joint Proposal also includes a commitment from PG&E to a 55% renewable energy target in 2031, a legitimately “unprecedented voluntary commitment by a major US energy company.”
“This is an historic agreement,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth. “It sets a date for the certain end of nuclear power in California and assures replacement with clean, safe, cost-competitive, renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage. It lays out an effective roadmap for a nuclear phase-out in the world’s sixth largest economy, while assuring a green energy replacement plan to make California a global leader in fighting climate change.”
“California’s energy landscape is changing dramatically with energy efficiency, renewables and storage being central to the state’s energy policy,” said PG&E Corporation Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley. “As we make this transition, Diablo Canyon’s full output will no longer be required. As a result, we will not seek to relicense the facility beyond 2025 pending approval of the joint energy proposal. Importantly, this proposal recognizes the value of GHG-free nuclear power as an important bridge strategy to help ensure that power remains affordable and reliable and that we do not increase the use of fossil fuels while supporting California’s vision for the future.”
“PG&E will immediately cease any efforts on its part to renew the Diablo Canyon operating licenses,” PG&E said in its press release, “and will ask the NRC to suspend consideration of the pending Diablo Canyon license renewal application pending withdrawal with prejudice of the NRC application upon California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approval of the Joint Proposal Application.”
“Supporting this is a coalition of labor and environmental partners with some diverse points of view,” added PG&E CEO Tony Earley. “We came to this agreement with some different perspectives—and we continue to have some different perspectives—but the important thing is that we ultimately got to a shared point of view about the most appropriate and responsible path forward with respect to Diablo Canyon and how best to support the state’s energy vision.”
Image Credit: Nuclear Regulatory Commission, via Flickr