Despite Bankruptcy Threat, PG&E Progressing with Diablo Shutdown

Utility Insists It Has the Necessary $3.2 Billion in Funds

Though it’s threatened bankruptcy, PG&E says it will still decommission the plant.
©2002-2019 Kenneth & gabrielle Adelman, California Costal Records Project, www.californiacoastline.org

Even in the throes of potential bankruptcy, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) officials insist the funds needed to decommission Diablo Canyon Power Plant, the last nuclear plant in the state, will not be jeopardized. Utility spokesperson Blair Jones stated that $3.2 billion has already been collected for the decommissioning of the power plant, scheduled to begin in 2025. In addition, PG&E filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) last December for an additional rate increase that would generate another $1.6 billion for decommissioning. Jones said the additional funding request stemmed from a more detailed proposal than the prior estimate.

Diablo Canyon watchdog the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility has already filed a letter of protest with the PUC, contending that the public utility is already being compensated for some of the decommissioning costs due to a legal settlement with the federal government over the feds’ failure to get a permanent storage site permitted for nuclear waste. When PG&E announced plans to declare bankruptcy later this month, critics worried that the utility would use money set aside for decommissioning to pay its expenses. But Jones flatly denied that this would be possible.

Alliance spokesperson David Weisman agreed that PG&E’s decommissioning trust funds cannot be touched, but he suggested a bankruptcy proceeding might intrude on decommissioning plans nonetheless. With 1,600 well-paid union employees, Weisman said, Diablo Canyon is a large operational expense. Efforts to reorganize the company financially might have a bearing on their continued employment, he suggested.

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