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Climate, energy experts push Governor Newsom to delay Diablo Canyon closure

San Luis Obispo County

The Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County is the last remaining nuclear facility in California and it’s planned for closure in 2025.

But support for delaying the plant’s closure continues to grow.

In a letter sent to Governor's office February 3, almost 80 climate and energy experts from around the country urged Newsom and the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) to delay the planned 2025 closure of Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

The plant is California’s single largest source of emission-free electricity. PG&E, the utility that owns the facility, decided in 2016 not to renew its operating license past 2025.

This has sparked controversy among clean energy advocates. While some officials oppose nuclear facilities like Diablo Canyon due to safety and waste concerns, many say closing the plant is hasty, claiming it could cause a net increase in emissions as renewable energy is not being produced fast enough to replace it.

“Closing Diablo Canyon, which contributes to 10 percent of the state’s electricity — that’s enough electricity for three million people — at a time when we are facing a terrible climate crisis and also an energy crisis, goes against everything that we should be aiming towards right now,” said Save Clean Energy Founder and Executive Director Isabelle Boemeke.

Boemeke helped draft the letter urging a reconsideration of Diablo Canyon's end date.

“The end-of-day goal of the letter is to really put pressure on Governor Newsom and the CPUC to take a closer look at this decision,” Boemeke said.

Obama Administration U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Steven Chu is one of the signees of the letter.

In a statement to KCBX News, Chu said:

“As California's single largest producer of clean energy, the Diablo Canyon Power Plant plays a critical role in promoting California's growing independence from fossil fuels. In the coming decade or two, chemical and pumped-storage of energy will not be enough. If we prematurely close Diablo Canyon, we will be taking a big step backwards in our conversion to a carbon free future and our efforts to combat the existential threat posed by climate change.”

PG&E told KCBX News for a previous story that its plans for the power plant have not changed and the utility’s focus remains on safely and reliably operating the plant until the end of its licenses, which expire in 2024 and 2025.

KCBX reached out to the Governor’s Office for comment on the letter. We did not receive a response.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.