SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The California Public Utilities Commission is hosting community hearings in San Luis Obispo Thursday on PG&E's planned closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant by 2025.
The hearings are intended to give the CPUC more public input on what the closure of the plant will mean to the community.
The planned permanent shutdown of Diablo Canyon by 2025 continues to energize debate on the Central Coast.
"The shutdown date for Diablo Canyon should be moved up to 2019 and 2020 for the two (reactor) units", said Jane Swanson with San Luis Obispo Mothers For Peace.
"Don't buy this bunk that says, oh, this plant is old and obsolete, nope, this plant is constantly renewing itself", said Gene Nelson with Californians for Green Nuclear Power, "the plant is safe and it will continue to be safe."
Those in favor of keeping Diablo Canyon open until it reaches its designed lifespan of 100 years argue the bottom line fallout from closing the plant will be higher power bills for consumers, the loss of hundreds of good paying jobs as well as tens of millions of dollars a year in tax revenue for San Luis Obispo County and other local agencies.
They also contend closing the nuclear power plant will harm the environment with greater carbon emissions from more use of natural gas and coal-generated energy.
"This has been a game that's been played by utilities all over the country", Nelson said, "when they want to, quote, get rid of a facility that the ratepayers, not them, but the ratepayers have been paying for and instead they want to get rid of it rather than run it for its useful life, so 40 years versus 100 years, which would you take?"
Those in favor of closing the plant say it continues to pose a threat to public safety and the marine environment and argue the plant's annual power production to the grid will be replaced by safer, alternative energy sources like solar power.
"An earlier shutdown date also means fewer years of creating additional radioactive waste with nowhere to go", Swanson said, "it means fewer years of risk to the public should there be an accident or terrorism at the plant, it also would be a big plus for marine life on the coast."
PG&E is seeking a ruling from the CPUC by the end of the year on its application to close Diablo Canyon by 2025.
The two CPUC community hearings Thursday, September 14 will be at 1:30pm and 7pm at the Ludwick Community Center at 864 Santa Rosa St. in San Luis Obispo.