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Opinion: An open letter regarding the future of Diablo Canyon


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Friday, May 6, 2022

By the Diablo Vision Coalition

To Central Coast California residents, clean energy champions and innovators, and anyone interested in advancing an abundant and sustainable energy future:

Where the Diablo Canyon Power Plant sits on California’s central coast, we see a new future as a hub of clean energy innovation. We see a research and development campus where industry and academia can hatch and collaborate on emerging renewable technologies. We see an expansion of existing desalination capabilities, a port for blue economy activity, a community center for education and celebration of Chumash heritage, and a critical platform for California to harness wind power directly on our coast.

It is not a useless reverie. A year ago, stakeholders representing government, higher education, business, labor, tribal and conservation organizations came together to pursue a shared vision for the future of the 585-acre industrial area of Diablo Canyon.

We have spent the last 12 months expanding the coalition and crystallizing the vision. We brought together top experts in large-scale redevelopment and nuclear decommissioning, consulted with national renewable energy researchers and industry leaders, explored appropriate possibilities, weighed challenges, and designed a site plan. concept for a mixed-use innovation park supporting research, education and commercial enterprise. . We have built a strong consensus around what all experts agree is a generational opportunity.

Simply put, this unique industrial site offers unparalleled energy assets to unlock the next chapter in our state and nation’s energy independence and resilience. With high-power transmission lines (500 kV and 230 kV) connected to the state power grid, extensive existing facilities, and proximity to offshore wind development coming from the waters off our coasts, this site can accelerate the global clean energy innovation – all while creating jobs and economic benefits for Central Coast residents and conserving the vast surrounding lands for conservation and tribal stewardship.

From our collective due diligence up to last year, we strongly believe that Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, with the support of public-private partnerships and investments, can be the catalyst for this vision.
Cal Poly is a trusted community partner that contributes significantly to the region’s economy, community and social fabric. It is also a widely regarded applied research powerhouse, with access to the vast resources of the California State University 23-campus system and an established national network of donors, supporters, and industry partners.

Complemented by a combination of commercial enterprises and state and federally funded research labs, the university’s “learning by doing” philosophy can enhance and propel the vision of a hands-on center of innovation and collaboration.

With a long history of capital project execution, management and partnerships with Pacific Gas and Electric, Cal Poly is uniquely positioned as the logical successor entity to usher in an extraordinary new era for Diablo Canyon and the Central Coast.

The Central Coast is already a leading renewable energy nexus, with huge large-scale solar farms, the world’s largest battery storage plant being developed in Morro Bay and the world’s largest storage area. West Coast offshore wind energy set to go up for auction this fall, among other projects. Add to that a large skilled energy workforce and a heritage of energy exporting, and the Central Coast positions itself as a major player in the nation’s clean energy future.

Details, big and small, need to be spelled out. Among them: synchronizing the development of future use activities with the decommissioning of the plant; ensure that local businesses and workers are employed in the multi-billion dollar decommissioning process to the greatest extent possible; and remain flexible to evolve as industry partners, regulatory processes and investments come together.

But time is running out. With strong community alignment behind Cal Poly, we proactively seek the partnerships and long-term investments needed to realize the vision of a climate change innovation hub that supports well-paying, future-oriented jobs. for our skilled workforce.

The Central Coast is already playing a pivotal role in advancing our state’s sustainable economy, and we invite you to join us in unlocking the potential of this bold vision.

• The Diablo Vision Coalition is a group of civic and business leaders brought together by REACH, the Regional Economic Action Coalition. Its members include U.S. Representative Salud Carbajal and other elected officials, as well as Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong. For a full list of signatories to this open letter, visit reachcentralcoast.org/diablo-vision/