Grid Expert: Replacing Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant with Renewables ‘Can’t Be Done’ – by Carl Wurtz (Globe California – January 28, 2023)


To go 100% renewable would drive electricity prices four to five times higher

With recent legislation limiting the lifetime of California’s last remaining nuclear power plant to eight more years, the debate about replacement power has once again been thrust to the forefront of environmental concerns: will higher emissions after the shutdown of Diablo Canyon doom California’s efforts to meet climate targets?

Though generating electricity with nuclear power produces no CO2, California agencies believe the answer is “no.” Every five years the California Air Resources Board (CARB) develops a plan to determine what sources will be needed to deliver clean electricity to 30 million customers.

And though California has set ambitious carbon reduction targets for 2030 and 2045, the only sources which qualify in CARB’s Scoping Plan fall under the arbitrary category of “renewable” energy. They include energy from solar panels, wind turbines, burning biomass (chipped lumber), and geothermal wells, but inexplicably neglect nuclear and hydroelectricity, which are actually America’s two largest sources of clean energy.

In 2016, when PG&E announced its decision close Diablo Canyon, the news was met with elation from large environmental groups. Calling the decision “historic”, the Natural Resources Defense Council was ebullient.

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