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Green Thumbs Up: Diablo Canyon to be replaced with clean energy

The historic agreement between Pacific Gas and Electric and Friends of the Earth, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Environment California, IBEW, Coalition of California Utility Employees, and the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility will make California, the world’s sixth largest economy, nuclear-free.

“We’re thrilled to be part of this historic agreement to foreclose on the dirty, dangerous energy of the past and widen the door to the clean, renewable power that must be part of our future,” said Dan Jacobson, state director of Environment California, according to Environment America.

“This is an historic agreement,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth. “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.” Pica added that the change-over to green energy will “make California a global leader in fighting climate change,” reports Common Dreams.

The agreement announced on Tuesday, says that PG&E will stop seeking renewed operating licenses for Diablo Canyon’s two reactors, due to expire in 2014 and 2025, respectively. In the meantime, the two parties will seek Public Utility Commission approval of the plan to replace power from the plant with renewable energy, efficiency and energy storage resources.

By setting an end date for the nuclear reactors, it is felt that the phase-out will go in an orderly fashion. As part of the agreement, PG&E is committing to having renewable energy making up 55 percent of its total retail power sales by 2031. This commitment will actually exceed California’s standard of 50 percent renewables by 2030, says EcoWatch.

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The agreement was made possible with Friends of the Earth’s Plan B, a detailed technical and economic report commissioned by the group. It showed how power from the Diablo Canyon reactors could be replaced with renewable energy that would also be efficient and clean.

Just as important, the resulting agreement also contains provisions for the Diablo Canyon workforce and the community of San Luis Obispo. “We are pleased that the parties considered the impact of this agreement on the plant employees and the nearby community,” Pica said. “The agreement provides funding necessary to ease the transition to a clean energy economy.”

In September 2014, Digital Journal discussed in detail the problems with the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, pointing out that after the Fukushima disaster, people started reassessing their feelings about Diablo Canyon. In doing so, a whole list of faults cropped up, including water quality issues and failing pipelines. The fact that the power plant was located near four known fault lines became a major issue.

If any event or issue is deserving of a Green Thumbs Up, this historic agreement certainly is, and PG&E should be singled out for partnering with environmentalists in moving California toward a greener future.

Green Thumbs Up is a recurring feature that focuses on the environment and how we can lead more sustainable and eco-friendly lives. In a previous Green Thumbs Up, Baltimore’s National Aquarium was singled out for their intentions to remove the eight dolphins at the aquarium to a seaside sanctuary.

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