California PUC judge recommends termination of Diablo Canyon protest petition

An administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission on March 6 issued a recommended decision denying a Friends of the Earth petition related to ratemaking for the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

The recommended decision may be heard, at the earliest, at the commission’s April 9 business meeting.

Said the recommended decision: “This decision denies the Petition for a Rulemaking to adopt, amend, or repeal a regulation Petition (P.) 14-10-007 (Petition) to examine the regulatory treatment of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station (Diablo Canyon), owned and operated by Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E). The Petition fails for both procedural as well as substantive issues. The Commission already has existing tools and recurring proceedings where PG&E’s operations of Diablo Canyon, as well as its costs imposed on ratepayers, are routinely examined or subject to examination. Further, the Commission can and will, as necessary, open specific proceedings, in the near future to globally to address the various changes in the electric generation market, the regulatory conditions applicable to Diablo Canyon, as well as relevant environmental issues, affecting Diablo Canyon and PG&E’s ratepayers. Friends’ Petition raises no facts and presents no analysis to conclude that a Rulemaking or Investigation is needed at this time.”

The ALJ added: “A large portion of the Petition was a narrative from the perspective of Friends outlining its version of the licensing and regulatory history of Diablo Canyon. Much of that narrative is unsupported by a persuasive declaration or affidavit, and is therefore irrelevant to the current ratemaking and economics underlying the operations of Diablo Canyon at this time and it is disregarded.”

The ALJ’s decision said Diablo Canyon’s future may be addressed through other forums. “We find Friends’ Petition is defective and therefore fails for both procedural as well as substantive issues. However, as also discussed, we believe that the existing regulatory proceeding has been successful to date and we are likely to develop a more comprehensive Investigation, if needed in the future, to globally address the various changes in the electric generation market, the regulatory conditions applicable to Diablo Canyon, as well as relevant environmental issues, affecting Diablo Canyon and PG&E’s ratepayers. For example, there are seismic studies pursuant to Assembly Bill 1632, the important greenhouse gas emission avoidance benefits provided by Diablo Canyon, concern about possible periods of over-generation, and the remaining economic viability of Diablo Canyon, which may warrant a thoughtful investigation at the right time. This Petition suffers from its unsubstantiated and ‘self-answering’ narrow perspective: shut down Diablo Canyon.” 

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.