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Federal bill aims to grow renewable energy industry in San Luis Obispo County

Local politicians, public school representatives, and solar and offshore wind energy company officials gathered in Avila Beach Monday to mark the introduction of federal legislation aimed at encouraging the renewable energy industry on the Central Coast. 

U.S. Congressman Salud Carbajal, who represents San Luis Obispo County on Capitol Hill, said when running for office, his top priority was softening the economic blow of the coming closure of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

“And to make the Central Coast a renewable energy hub, attracting new and successful business with good paying jobs,” Carbajal said.

On April 5, Carbajal is introducing a federal bill that focuses on San Luis Obispo County, creating new tax credits for renewable energy companies doing business in the county. The legislation - the Energy Opportunity Zone Act - is designed to grow the renewable energy industry locally.

The bill has the support of two San Luis Obispo County school districts, Lucia Mar and San Luis Coastal, which stand to lose just under $13 million dollars in property tax revenue annually when Diablo Canyon closes. It also has the support of Cal Poly.

“In the end, we know we're going to need more electrical energy, but we need to develop these sources intelligently,” said Benjamin Ruttenberg, director of Cal Poly’s Center for Coastal Marine Sciences. “Cal Poly and the Center for Coastal Marine Sciences has the expertise in marine biology, oceanography, atmospheric science, economics, computer science and engineering. We're well positioned to provide the scientific information needed to make decisions in a responsible way.”

Carbajal said he hopes the legislation will gain the support of other U.S. lawmakers who are facing similar circumstances in their districts. He gave the example of Plymouth, Massachusetts, where the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station will shutter by 2019; and Buchanan, New York, where the Indian Point Energy Centernuclear power plant is scheduled to close by 2021.

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