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Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant to Close in California, Replaced by Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

, senior analyst, Clean Energy | June 21, 2016, 12:02 pm EDT
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Today Pacific Gas and Electric announced that it will close Diablo Canyon, the last remaining nuclear plant in California, when its current operating license expires in 2025. The news itself is big. But in my opinion, even more exciting is PG&E’s pledge to backfill all of that generation with clean energy resources: energy efficiency and renewables. Doing so will ensure that the removal of the plant will not cause any increase in greenhouse gas emissions, an impact that California experienced in 2013 when the San Onofre nuclear plant had to be shut down unexpectedly for safety reasons.

Right now, Diablo Canyon supplies a large, very inflexible amount of generation onto the grid 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That consistency used to be a desirable attribute of nuclear power. But integrating significant amounts of renewable energy is made much easier when grids are flexible and can be managed more dynamically. The state will need that flexibility in the future as we prepare to reach 50 percent renewables by 2030.

PG&E supported the bill last year that raised our RPS to 50 percent by 2030 and is now taking another huge step forward as a clean energy leader.

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  • TimS

    It will be replaced by natural gas/fracking as wind/solar bird-choppers/landscape-destroyers deliver only a fraction of rated power and must be backed up by ‘hot standby’ fossil-fuel plants due to their unpredictability.

    • Laura Wisland

      Hi Tim,

      Thanks for reading my blog. Natural gas is a flexible fuel and grid operators have used it to back up renewable generation in the past. But we have other options that rely on carbon-free resources and some of these resources are even better than natural gas at ensuring grid reliability with large quantities of renewables. You can read more about that here:
      http://www.ucsusa.org/renewables-and-reliability-grid-management-solutions-support-californias-clean-energy-future#.V3FmSKKuPhw

      UCS will be participating in the energy planning proceeding that will decide exactly what Diablo generation is replaced with, and will be working hard to make sure that the incremental renewables brought online do not result in an increase in natural gas generation.

  • solodoctor

    I agree that it is heartening that PG&E is, finally, moving towards a more climate friendly, renewable energy future. It has been quite a struggle, however.

    Additionally, the company has resisted taking full responsibility for the terrible natural gas pipeline explosion that took place at San Bruno a few years ago. Continuing pressure needs to be exerted on its execs in regards to pipeline safety, etc.