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PG&E files Diablo closure plan with CPUC as pro-nuclear group works to derail it

Randol White/KCBX
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant could shut down by 2025 under a joint proposal submitted to the CPUC on Thursday.

A joint proposal by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to shut down San Luis Obispo County's Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant over the next nine years has been formally filed with the state's Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). 

Several environmental groups and one labor union are among those who helped formulate the proposal which was filed on Thursday.

PG&E spokesperson Blair Jones told KCBX the public will still get ample opportunity to sound off on the plan as the commission moves through its process for approval.

"We're hopeful that the process will begin very soon and that we could have a decision at some point in mid-to-late 2017," said Jones.

Jones said the plan is to replace Diablo's energy with new greenhouse-gas-free energy resources, including wind and solar.

While many groups have called for Diablo's closure over the decades, some people believe the facility is still the best means for providing environmentally-friendly electricity. The group Californians for Green Nuclear Power wants to derail the current proposal.

Abe Weitzberg helped engineer reactors up in the Bay Area for many years and is a consultant for the group. He said Thursday that members will use the legal means available to them as the CPUC begins its consideration process.

"We have a guarded optimism because we see some flaws in their proposal," said Weitzberg. "They keep on claiming that Diablo Canyon only runs at a base load and then it won't fit in with renewables in a flexible grid, and there's ample evidence that that's not the case."

If the proposal does move forward, the plan calls for shutting down Diablo's two reactors as their operating licenses expire — the first in 2024 and the second the following year.