Sierra Club: Poll shows gas not the answer for San Onofre replacement

The Sierra Club on Jan. 8 released a poll showing that a majority of customers in San Diego and Orange counties oppose California Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build new gas-fired plants to replace the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

That opposition is due to concerns about air quality and impacts on climate disruption, the club noted. Strong majorities of southland utility customers would prefer that the Southern California Edison nuclear plant be replaced with clean energy like wind, solar, or energy efficiency, including strong support among Latino customers. The plan is currently being “fast-tracked” through the governor-appointed California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), and a decision is expected by the end of this month, the club added.

“These poll results are a forceful rejection of Governor Brown and state regulators’ dirty power proposal. Spending billions on more dirty gas plants is completely out of step with the public’s desire to see more clean energy and less pollution and carbon emissions,” said Evan Gillespie, Director of the Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign. “Rather than doubling down on fossil fuels, Californians are once again demanding clean energy solutions. With so many clean alternatives and so much public support, why are Governor Brown and the CPUC propping up dirty energy?”

Key poll findings include:

  • A majority of customers (56%) would prefer a replacement plan that uses only clean, renewable energy sources and energy efficiency in Southern California. This preference for a clean energy plan is also found among Latino customers, 52% of whom prefer a plan that uses only clean, renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.
  • The vast majority of customers (81%) say it’s important that a replacement strategy for San Onofre not lead to new air pollution in Southern California (55% say it is “very” important and 26% say it’s “somewhat” important). Among Latino customers, a similar percentage say it’s important that a replacement strategy not lead to new pollution (80%).
  • Three in five customers (60%) and 62% of Latino customers say that Gov. Brown and other state leaders “should do more to address climate disruption by taking actions like promoting more clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar and avoiding more polluting power plants.”

The San Onofre station powered down in January 2012 over safety concerns. After initially trying to get the plant at least partially fixed and back in operation, Southern California Edison in June 2013 said it would retire the facility instead, setting off a scramble to replace its over 2,200 MW of capacity.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.