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California says goodbye to its last nuclear power plant. What will replace it? via EDF

Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a momentous final decision to close the state’s last nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon. This outcome represents the culmination of over a year of effort initiated by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in 2016. When PG&E first brought this to the commission, they called for the closure because the plant had become uneconomic in the face of customers increasingly leaving the utility for Community Choice Aggregators, like CleanPowerSF, and a changing electric grid that relies more on flexible, distributed energy resources like wind and solar.

With its recent decision, the CPUC agreed with PG&E, stating that renewing Diablo Canyon’s license to operate beyond 2025 would not be cost-effective.

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Where does this leave California?

At Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we recognize nuclear energy can provide greenhouse-gas free electricity. However, we also agree that under these circumstances, continuing to operate an aging and increasingly unnecessary source of baseload power – or power that cannot ramp up and down quickly – doesn’t make sense. Additionally, PG&E and the commission need to replace the plant carefully in order to ensure Diablo Canyon’s closure doesn’t come with the unintended consequence of increasing harmful carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

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With careful planning, the closure of Diablo Canyon will not deter California from continuing on its path as a clean energy leader for the country. In fact, replacing this aging nuclear plant with clean energy resources will continue to accelerate the transition to a clean, affordable, and sustainable electricity system.

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