Dianne Feinstein: Why I changed my mind about California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant

The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant - Source David Middlecamp
The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. DAVID MIDDLECAMP dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

ENB Publishers Note: While I did not vote for Dianne Feinstein, I do respect her letter explaining her position on the Diablo Canyon, and placing California’s citizens first. We need to use all forms of energy to deliver the lowest cost kwh to all citizens with the list impact on the environment. Nuclear is one of the most critical. 

California is a global model in the fight against climate change, but the balance necessary to achieve carbon neutrality is delicate and the obstacles many. Longer, hotter summers mean more electricity use, while worsening droughts limit hydropower. With the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant scheduled to close, state regulators project years of electricity shortfalls.

As these challenges converge, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. should reconsider its decision to close Diablo Canyon by 2025. The utility should get the plant relicensed instead, retiring it once the state can replace its production with clean sources.

When PG&E announced the planned closure in 2016, I supported the decision. I remain concerned about the lack of long-term storage for spent nuclear fuel and am working to develop better solutions.

California has some of the most ambitious clean-energy goals in the world, including decreasing carbon emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030 and achieving 100% clean electricity by 2045. That will require energy alternatives that can provide power around the clock in addition to solar and wind. Shutting down the state’s single largest power producer under these circumstances would make little sense.

Closing Diablo Canyon would remove 18,000 gigawatt-hours from the grid, nearly 10% of the state’s electricity generation. This is an extraordinary amount of power for a grid facing reliability concerns amid heat waves and wildfires. When the power goes out, lives are endangered.

Moreover, the plant generates 15% of the state’s carbon-free electricity. At least in the short term, that would have to be replaced with fossil fuel generation. I continue to advocate for renewable energy. It is clearly the future for not only California but also the country and the world. But while California is leading the way on renewables, we aren’t there yet.

The recent bipartisan infrastructure bill invested heavily in wind, solar and other forms of clean energy, an acknowledgment that renewable energy is the future. But the law also provided funds to help defray the costs of extending the life of Diablo Canyon and ensuring it’s safe.

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About Stu Turley 1967 Articles
Stuart Turley is President and CEO of Sandstone Group, a top energy data, and finance consultancy working with companies all throughout the energy value chain. Sandstone helps both small and large-cap energy companies to develop customized applications and manage data workflows/integration throughout the entire business. With experience in implementing enterprise networks, supercomputers, and cellular tower solutions, Sandstone has become a trusted source and advisor in this space. Stuart has led the “Total Corporate Digital Integration” platform at Sandstone and works with Sandstone clients to help integrate all aspects of modern digital business. He is also the Executive Publisher of www.energynewsbeat.com, the best source for 24/7 energy news coverage and is the Co-Host of the energy news video and Podcast Energy News Beat. Stuart is on Board Member of ASN Productions, DI Communities Stuart is guided by over 30 years of business management experience, having successfully built and help sell multiple small and medium businesses while consulting for numerous Fortune 500 companies. He holds a B.A in Business Administration from Oklahoma State and an MBA from Oklahoma City University.