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Local officials and nonprofits sign open letter supporting a future "clean tech park" at Diablo Canyon


Governor Gavin Newsom told the L.A. Times last weekhe’s reconsidering whether Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County should fully close by 2025. In a reversal of his years-long stance on the plant's decommissioning timeline, the governor said he’d like to work with utility PG&E to apply for federal funds to delay that closure amid projected energy shortages in California.

But Newsom stressed that he still wants to see the plant de-commissioned eventually, raising the question of what will happen to it after the reactors shut down for good.

The Central Coast’s Regional Economic Action Coalition (REACH) has an idea. They announced an open lettertoday signed by government, nonprofit and community leaders endorsing Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to lead the way in revamping one of Diablo Canyon’s parcels into a clean tech innovation park.

In a press release, REACH said it’s been working on this plan for over a year with experts and local community groups. The release includes a concept map of the facility’s Parcel P and where projects involving things like desalination and battery storage could someday go on Diablo Canyon property.

“Over the course of the last year, there’s been extensive outreach into community groups throughout the region, fishing groups, PG&E, different kinds of advocacy groups and environmental groups to give input into the vision for the future," said REACH CEO Melissa James.

James said in addition to new clean energy technologies, the Diablo Canyon site could be used for education and research.

She said Cal Poly is the institution “best-positioned to drive a community vision to drive the re-use at Parcel P that looks at issues of creating a permanent hub for high-paying jobs, looking at creating a [research and development] campus where industry and academia can hatch and commercialize new technologies and water resilience, clean tech, renewable energy and so forth.”

Flickr/Tracey Adams

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors signed on to the letter unanimously in their meeting this morning.

Third District Supervisor Dawn Ortiz-Legg represents the area that houses Diablo Canyon. In a statement to KCBX News, she called REACH’s vision for Parcel P “balanced and viable” and a smart way to plan for Diablo’s post-decommissioning future.

Ortiz-Legg said, “The consensus to support Cal Poly’s endeavors is to promote more of what CalPoly already does so well – provide extraordinary world class opportunities to our region with students and researchers – businesses and investors invited to participate in clean tech innovation for energy and the blue economy.”

In a statement to KCBX News, Cal Poly SLO said they’re excited to work with REACH on the “reimagining” of Diablo Canyon as a clean energy hub.

The statement read, “[O]ur university’s student-focused Learn by Doing approach; wealth of faculty expertise; focus on research; and deep connections and partnerships with industry and the community all combine to make us an ideal choice to lead this effort.”

Melissa James said the Central Coast is working to become a hub for both the space industry and renewable energy, which could change the area’s entire economy.

“I would say this work has the potential to be transformative to our region in creating new good, high-paying jobs. So that people today have an opportunity in the years ahead to make a living, raise a family and root their lives here on the Central Coast."

The open letter is available here.

Benjamin Purper was News Director of KCBX from May of 2021 to September of 2023. He came from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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