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SLO Supervisors vote to send letter to Governor Newsom in support of keeping Diablo Canyon open

The first nuclear reactor at Diablo Canyon is set to be decommissioned by 2024, while the second is scheduled for 2025.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-1 Tuesday to send a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom urging him to intervene to stop the impending closure of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

Pressure has been building on the governor to stop utility PG&E from shutting down the SLO County power plant in 2025, though Newsom’s office has not shown any indication he will do so.

Environmentalists and other advocates argue that given Diablo Canyon’s large production of emissions-free energy — about 10% of California’s entire energy portfolio — they say closing it would hurt the state’s effort to reach carbon neutrality and possibly force it to use more fossil fuels to compensate.

However, PG&E has no plans to reverse course.

Rachel Showalter
Activists gathered in front of San Luis Obispo Superior Court in December 2021 to fight to delay the closure of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

“We remain on course for decommissioning in 2025 at this time," said PG&E spokesperson Tom Jones at Tuesday’s meeting.

Still, the three conservative supervisors voted to send the letter to Newsom, with Bruce Gibson voting no and Dawn Ortiz-Legg recusing herself.

Supervisor Lynn Compton pointed to public support of keeping the plant open.

“We hear the naysayers who want to shut it down, but I think the vast majority of our constituents in this county are very supportive of it and would love to see it for the economic benefits and the clean energy move forward and continue to operate," Compton said.

Some county residents called in to express their support for the move, like Mike Brown with the SLO County Coalition for Labor, Agriculture and Business.

“You will never in your life have another opportunity like this to affect strategic public policy in California, the nation and the world," Brown said.

Supervisor Gibson, however, argued that the public process around the plant’s closure has already been basically completed, and that the board’s efforts would be better focused on other renewables besides nuclear, like offshore wind.

“This is, if not the train leaving the station, it is a freighter leaving the dock. And you don’t simply turn something as complicated as keeping a nuclear power plant open — you don’t turn that on a dime," Gibson said.

The first nuclear reactor at Diablo Canyon is set to be decommissioned by 2024, while the second is scheduled for 2025.

Diablo Canyon is located on the coast between Avila Beach and Los Osos.

Benjamin Purper came to KCBX in May of 2021 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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