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.