On Tuesday, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced that it had reached an agreement with Friends of the Earth, along with other environmental and labor organizations, to replace nuclear reactors within Diablo Canyon with renewable energy.
The terms set the shutdown dates for the reactors in 2024 and 2025, which will end the presence of nuclear energy in California.
PG&E had previously applied for 20 year extensions for the reactors, but the deal calls for the retraction of the application.
Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica said the agreement was historic. “It sets a date for the certain end of nuclear power in California and assures replacement with clean, safe, cost-competitive, renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage,” he said.
“It lays out an effective roadmap for a nuclear phase-out in the world’s sixth largest economy, while assuring a green energy replacement plan to make California a global leader in fighting climate change.”
A technical and economic report supplied by Friends of the Earth, called Plan B, served as a blueprint for negotiations, and included suggestions on how to safely phase out the reactors while replacing them with greenhouse gas free energy sources.
PG&E’s agreement also contained provisions for employment within the local community of San Louis Obispo and within Diablo Canyon.
“We are pleased that the parties considered the impact of this agreement on the plant employees and the nearby community,” said Pica. “The agreement provides funding necessary to ease the transition to a clean energy economy.”
Friends of the Earth was created in 1969 to combat the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors. The reactors have been the organization’s primary agenda item since its founding, making the agreement a major win for the org.
David Freeman, former head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, helped negotiate the detail between PG&E and Friends of the Earth.
“The age of renewables has arrived, and they’re not only cleaner, but cheaper, and PG&E thinks that,” Freeman said. He also advocated for a move away from natural gas usage. “The fact that a lot of gas plants were built to replace coal should be an embarrassment to everyone involved,” he said. “That’s like switching Camel cigarettes to Lucky Strikes – you still get cancer.”
Freeman said that the agreement “should be a yardstick for transitioning every nuclear power plant and every coal-fired and gas-fired plant in the country.”