Diablo Canyon

Diablo Canyon Power Plant, shown in this May 2014 photograph, is owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and sits on the edge of the Pacific Ocean north of Avila Beach.

The public will have two opportunities to voice their opinions Thursday on a proposed settlement to shutter Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

The California Public Utilities Commission will hold public participation hearings at 1:30 and 7 p.m. at the Ludwick Community Center, 864 Santa Rosa St. in San Luis Obispo.

While no official action will be taken during the hearings, the commission will consider public comments when making closure decisions in the near future.

"It is vitally important for people to speak on behalf of the settlement, because our community will suffer if it is denied," said county Assistant Administrative Officer Guy Savage. 

It's estimated the county will take a $1 billion direct hit if Diablo Canyon closes as Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has proposed. The twin-reactor facility provides 1,500 head-of-household jobs and is also the biggest contributor to the local economy. 

PG&E owns and operates Diablo Canyon, which sits on the bluffs between Avila Beach and Los Osos.

As part of a joint agreement reached last summer to close the plant, PG&E has committed millions of dollars to retrain employees for decommissioning and also agreed to pay the county $85 million to offset declining property taxes. 

Monies would also be used to address impacts to essential public services, the local economy and off-site emergency planning efforts, helping ease the closure of the facility until the plant is fully decommissioned, according to Savage.

PG&E has also proposed a $352 million employee retention and severance program that would help keep millions of dollars in the county for years to come as the plant is decommissioned, which has an average 50-year time frame, if the agreement is approved.

"The Diablo Canyon Power Plant joint proposal represents the most appropriate and responsible path forward for our customers, employees, the local community and the environment," said Blair Jones, Diablo Canyon spokesman. 

Jones said PG&E welcomes and values feedback on the joint proposal and will continue dialogue with stakeholders as it moves through the Public Utilities Commission process.

"The agreement supports our state's clean energy vision and ensures an orderly transition from nuclear power to other greenhouse gas-free resources, while supporting our local plant workers and neighbors," he added.

The commission can approve or deny any or all parts of the agreement.

PG&E isn't seeking to renew the facility's twin reactors' generating licenses beyond 2024 and 2025, respectively.

April Charlton covers Santa Barbara County for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow her on Twitter@WordsDawn



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