Diablo Canyon Panel Seeks Members

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

February 25, 2021

Volunteers are needed for the Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel.

Pacific Gas & Electric is looking for volunteers for its Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel with three seats coming open soon.
PG&E formed the Panel in 2018 with 11 members designed to provide community input on the “ongoing decommissioning planning activities,” the company said in a news release. Deadline to apply is March 13.
“We are strongly focused on the safe and reliable operation of Diablo Canyon,” Jim Welsch, senior vice president of generation and chief nuclear officer said, “and at the same time, are planning for a safe and responsible decommissioning of the facility to begin after the operating licenses expire in 2024 and 2025. We greatly appreciate the panel’s efforts and the work they have been doing over the past few years to provide meaningful and constructive feedback that has helped to shape PG&E’s decommissioning strategies.
“We strongly encourage members of our community to submit applications to join the panel so that PG&E and this project can continue to benefit from a wide range of insights.”
PG&E has plans to shut down Diablo Canyon, the last nuclear power plant in California, starting with Unit 1 in 2024 and Unit 2 the following year, when its current federal operating licenses expire. Diablo Canyon produces 2,200 megawatts, accounting for some 10 percent of the State’s output.
The decision was reached a few years ago after negotiations with environmental groups and State regulators.
PG&E has listed several factors that contributed to the decision, including changing trends in the utility industry such as community energy agencies; State goals for clean, renewable energy sources and reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
The company was looking at a contentious battle with environmental groups and anti-nuclear energy groups over what promised to be a long and expensive licensing process through the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
It was also facing having to change the cooling system at the plant, as the once-through seawater cooling system in use now, is now out of favor with the State Water Resources Control Board. The water board decided that seawater cooling systems kills too many larval sea creatures.
The SWRCB has ordered once-through cooling systems to be fazed out, a decision that also helped kill plans to replace the Morro Bay Power Plant.
The Panel meets quarterly and its meetings are open to the public, though being held online during the Coronavirus Pandemic response restrictions.
Among the most important issues the Panel will discuss is the future of the thousands of acres of coastal bluffs, grasslands and oak woodlands that make up the majority of the plant property.
Diablo Canyon sits on Point Buchon between Montaña de Oro State Park and Port San Luis.
PG&E has said the decommissioning process will take many years and cost billions of dollars. The new Panel members will be announced March 29.
Anyone interested in participating on the Decommissioning Panel can apply online at: diablocanyonpanel.org or pge.com/engagementpanel.

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