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PG&E’s Diablo Nuke Plant Closure Supported by ALJ

A proposed decision (PD) issued Wednesday by a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) administrative law judge (ALJ) supports Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) plans to close by 2025 the state's last major nuclear generating plant.

The San Francisco-based utility’s proposal to shut down the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) holds broad implications for the state's aggressive climate change mitigation policy, renewable energy growth and phasing out natural gas-fired power generation.

Last year PG&E reached an agreement with labor and environmental groups to phase out the 2,200 MW plant near San Luis Obispo and replace it with a combination of energy efficiency programs, renewable power sources that don’t produce greenhouse gases (GHG) and energy storage.

The ALJ’s proposed decision would, among other things, identify how to replace the power supply and allow PG&E to recover $190.4 million in plant retirement costs.

Filed with the CPUC last year, the DCPP joint proposal de-emphasized natural gas as an energy source, noting that nuclear and fossil fuels are not part of the state's long-term future.

PG&E said the PD differs from the joint proposal related to employee, community and energy replacement programs, and the utility "strongly disagrees" with the ALJ’s  variations.

"All these programs support the key focus of the joint proposal, which is having DCPP serve as a reliable and affordable clean energy bridge to 2025 while other GHG-free replacement resources are developed," said a PG&E spokesperson. The utility and its stakeholders “believe that the joint proposal in its current state deserves approval.”

Final oral arguments are scheduled for Nov. 28, and following a 25-day comment period the PD would be sent to the CPUC for a final determination.

During a quarterly earnings conference call last May, PG&E Corp. CEO Geisha Williams said the utility would set aside the many gas-related issues that have plagued it in recent years and emphasize climate change in its electricity business.

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