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PG&E agrees to pay millions to relieve economic pain of Diablo Canyon closure

Randol White/KCBX
A view of the Central Coast's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

Pacific Gas and Electric has agreed to pay out $85 million to San Luis Obispo County and several Central Coast cities and public schools to help ease the proposed closure of California's last nuclear power plant.

In June, PG&E announced plans to shut down its Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) in Avila Beach by 2025, and cease any efforts to renew the plant’s operating licenses once those permits expire.

The utility company crafted the proposed agreement released Monday in an effort to offset declining property taxes once the plant shutters. In addition, PG&E said it will provide incentives to retain employees during the plant's remaining operating years.

The move to phase out nuclear power production in California by 2025 is a joint proposal between PG&E and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1245, the Coalition of California Utility Employees, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment California and the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility. Those groups agreed to back the company in obtaining the necessary state approvals to keep the plant in operation until 2025 and avoid an earlier shutdown of the plant.

According to a PG&E statement issued late Monday afternoon, “under the first part of the agreement between PG&E, the County and the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, a $75 million Essential Services Mitigation Fund will be created to offset the potential negative impacts to essential services provided to the community by the SLCUSD and the County. This will be distributed to the County in nine equal annual installments through 2025 and the County will redistribute the funds to local agencies whose budgets are impacted by the inevitable decrease in unitary tax funding from the power plant.”

“This groundbreaking agreement will soften the significant impact our community will feel once Diablo Canyon is no longer here. There is still a difficult road ahead, but if we continue to work together, we will shape a prosperous future for our community. This collaborative effort is something of which we can all be proud,” San Luis Obispo County Board Vice Chair and District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill states in the release.

The proposed fund will be disbursed to the cities of Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Grover Beach, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach and San Luis Obispo, as well as San Luis Obispo County and the San Luis Coastal Unified School District. Nearly 90 percent of the funds will go to the county and school district to make up for a potentially huge loss of tax revenue. PG&E had originally proposed an agreement of nearly $50 million back in June.

Reaction to the closure proposal has varied from those who want to see the DCPP shut down immediately due to environmental and safety concerns to those who say nine years is not enough adjustment time for San Luis Obispo’s county government, cities and public schools to absorb the economic hit.

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