Diablo Canyon is Not the Devil

Smack dab in the middle of a record-setting heat wave and threats of rolling blackouts, Pacific Gas and Electric announced it will close the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in nine years. Just like that, 10 percent of the state’s energy supply will be gone. Coupled with the closure of San Onofre, California will be nuclear-free, having lost 20 percent of its electricity supply, not counting the additional lost energy from coal and other sources by way of state mandates.

What is happening to our supply of electricity is similar to what has already happened to our water supplies; squandered resources resulting in rationing to consumers. Of course, consumers aren’t told that supplies are being rationed; instead they have been brainwashed into believing they are conserving scarce resources. The truth is California is not suffering from a water crisis due to drought any more than we will be suffering power outages due to heat waves. Our water and energy crisis is the result of policies and regulations that serve to diminish our capacity to meet our daily needs.



Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is scheduled to close in nine years under PG&E’s plan. It currently is the last operating nuclear plant on the West Coast.



For all you so-called conservationists out there who are celebrating the closure, consider the following. To build the equivalent of a 2,000-megawatt nuclear plant, a solar farm would require 22,000 acres of PV solar panels and a wind farm would need 100,000 acres of wind turbines. By contrast, Diablo Canyon is able to produce that much power and more in a footprint of approximately 545 acres.

Diablo Canyon provided California with 22 percent of its clean energy and more than double the electricity produced by all the solar panels in the state combined. And, might I add, nuclear power emits no greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, we are losing one of the most reliable base load sources of power, along with the 1,500 best-paying jobs on the Central Coast, a facility that represents $1 billion annually in economic activity, and the utter decimation of the property tax base for the county of San Luis Obispo and nearby schools.

One of the death knells of all power plants, nuclear and otherwise, located along our coastline, was the requirement to install cooling towers to cool the water used in the plants before returning it to the ocean. This requirement was expected to cost Diablo billions. Spending that much money for nothing in return is similar to Gov. Jerry Brown wanting $15 billion for the twin tunnels to convey state water. Neither of these expenditures create additional supply.



"Job seekers line up in January for as many as 1,000 temporary positions at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant" - jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

“Job seekers line up in January for as many as 1,000 temporary positions at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant” – Joe Johnston


The other death knell can be laid at the feet of Congressional candidate Salud Carbajal’s pet project known as Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). Community choice aggregation allows communities to leach off the transmission network of utilities such as PG&E, forcing the company to deliver electricity from other providers — in essence diffusing energy production away from the major utilities. The plan serves to collapse the vertical integration of the utilities, thereby crippling the model of energy production and delivery that has served us well.

The CCA model doesn’t rely on free market competition but on a series of regulations, subsidies and mandates that prop up renewables, which fail to deliver a base load 24/7. Aggravating our situation further is the fact that the largest wind and solar plants in California continue to go bankrupt despite the multibillion-dollar subsidies and mandates used to prop them up.

Diablo Canyon represented a safe, high-tech, renewable, and greenhouse gas-free source of power that is irreplaceable. Ironically, the plant was also poised to deliver desalinated water to the Central Coast. California will rue the day our politicians and activists served to drop this fiscal nuclear bomb, leaving us in the dark — all in the name of sustainability.

About the Author: Andy Caldwell is the executive director of COLAB and host of the Andy Caldwell Radio Show, weekdays from 3-5 p.m., on News-Press Radio AM 1290.

4 replies
  1. Avatar
    Kirk Wayland says:

    The elephant in the room is what to do with all of the nuclear waste that is generated. Dumping out the trash in our neighbors Yucca Mountain backyard is not the answer. No, Nuclear energy is a stillborn idea waiting for the the day that the waste issue is solved. Until then, good riddance to Diablo.

  2. Avatar
    John Dobken says:

    @Kirk – Personally speaking, spent nuclear fuel is hardly an “elephant in the room.” In fact, spent nuclear fuel is safely and securely stored at nuclear plants around the country. What to do with it? It can be recycled, for one. For another, advanced reactors will be capable of utilizing it for fuel as well, perhaps with little or no by-product. The notion that nuclear energy is a “stillborn” idea is also fallacy. 450+ reactors operating around the world, with dozens more under development, show that the world is looking to nuclear energy to provide reliable, carbon-free electricity.
    I would add the definition of a stillborn idea is the “no nukes” movement. A small group of people cling to this anti-nuclear energy notion while the tide of technology and science (and an increasing need to lift billions of people out of poverty and protect the environment) rushes past them. Power plants will close. But they should close for the right reasons. I’m not convinced that’s happening here.

  3. Avatar
    Paul Cardelli says:

    We should be replacing old nuclear with new advanced nuclear over time. I don’t think anti-nuclear activist realize what is involved in shutting down an active nuclear plant, and why it is such a costly mistake that can not be undone. You don’t simply shut one down one day and expect it to go away.

    The so called waste is a fraction of the wasted produced by coal and gas. Physical space taken up by safely stored used fuel is much smaller, once you see it you will wonder why such hype over so little.

  4. Avatar
    Pierre says:

    Who pays for the “shutdown”
    I doubt Pacific Graft & Extortion will bring up and talk about this issue.
    On the other hand just think how much more PG&e can charge for electricity.

    I would suggest the public look at the pricing for Natural Gas.
    Pricing for this commodity I at an all time low, however Pacific Corp ( a wholly owned subsidiary of PG&E) has raised their Transmittion & Distribution charges to offset low Gas costs. Guess what our CPUC is doing to protect we the public.
    Question! Name the prison housing ex Chairman Peevy. A correct answer allow for one free month of Natural Gas for month of July.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.