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.
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.