According to the LA Times, one of California’s largest energy utilities took a very bold and brave step when it agreed to shut down its last operating nuclear power plant and focus more on developing more solar, wind and other clean energy technologies.
The decision was announced last Tuesday by Pacific Gas & Electric, labour unions and environmental groups. The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant will shut down within the next 10 years, countering the nuclear industry’s argument that minimising carbon emissions and battling climate change require the use of nuclear power, which generates electricity without harmful emissions.
PG&E said it would not seek to renew operation licenses on the two nuclear reactors beyond their current U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission operating licenses which will expire in 2024 and 2025. The company said California’s goal of producing 50% of its own power from renewables by the year 2030 has minimised the need for electricity from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.
PG&E joined with longtime adversaries like the environmental group Friends of the Earth in formulating a deal that will bring the company closer to the mandate of the renewable requirements mentioned earlier.
The agreement will close the state’s history as a nuclear pioneer, but adds to its clean energy reputation. California is currently leading the United States in solar energy use generated by rooftop solar panels and the power arrays in the desert.
The power produced by the two nuclear reactors would be replaced by investment in greenhouse-gas free options including generation and storage, as stated by PG&E. The proposal is dependent on a number of regulatory actions that also includes approval from the California Public Utilities Commission.
Diablo Canyon presently provides around 20% of electricity in the PG&E service territory. It accounts for about 6% of the state’s electricity mix and 9% of the in-state power generation. The plant provides 2,160 megawatts of electricity in Central and Northern California, which is enough to power more than 1.7 million homes.
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