The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant retirement plan - myths versus reality

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On June 21,  Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and a group of labor and environmental organizations issued a press release announcing the planned retirement of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in 2025 at the end of its current 40-year license.  Many parties to the plan and industry news articles suggest that PG&E will completely replace Diablo Canyon's energy with renewable energy and energy efficiency by 2031.  The reality is that PG&E is giving itself a full 20 years after the plant retires to fully replace its carbon-free energy.  In addition, some assumptions by pro-closure advocates about the relative costs and benefits of replacing Diablo Canyon with renewable energy appear to be overly optimistic, with fundamental mistakes about how the power system operates and simplistic comparisons of generator costs.  This Insight investigates the retirement plan and disproves several of these claims.

Table of contents

  • Key Takeaways
  • Background and Introduction
  • Myth #1: Diablo Canyon’s carbon-free energy will be fully replaced by 2031 without any increase in carbon emissions
  • Myth #2: Replacing Diablo Canyon with renewables will lower CAISO operating reserve requirements
  • Myth #3: Retiring Diablo Canyon will make it easier to integrate renewable energy
  • Myth #4: Levelized costs can be used to compare different generator technologies
  • Conclusions

Tables and charts

This report includes 3 images and tables including:

  • PG&E’s annual carbon-free energy supply mix from RPS Renewables and Diablo Canyon
  • CAISO Hourly Generation and ZP26 Real-time LMP on 4/23/2016
  • Replaying CAISO 4/23/2016 dispatch without DCPP but double the solar and triple the wind generation

What's included

This report contains:

  • Document

    The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant retirement plan - myths versus reality

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