We hate to see the Central Coast get the short end of the stick when it comes to utilities regulation.
Which is why we are supporting SB 1090 introduced by state Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and co-authored by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-Templeton).
The bill would have the effect of reversing a recent California Public Utilities Commission ruling that rejected a community mitigation plan to provide some $85 million in funding to offset the community impact of the closing of the twin Diablo Canyon reactors by 2025, with the loss of some 2,500 permanent jobs.
The bill would require the commission to approve the community impact funding and an employee retention program as well as ensure that any replacement power for Diablo Canyon avoids an increase in greenhouse gases.
This is a complex piece of legislation that would require a special amendment to the Public Utilities Act and passage is anything but assured.
However, we would point out that the Central Coast, including areas serviced by both Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, has gotten really terrible treatment from the CPUC over the past decades. In Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, the delivery of electric power has been anything but reliable and only recently has Edison “found” the money necessary to replace conduit that dates back to the administration of Herbert Hoover.
The CPUC and PG&E failed repeated efforts to find a way to equitably divide Diablo Canyon mitigation costs between the giant utility’s shareholders, its creditors and its ratepayers. Which means that SLO County and northern Santa Barbara County are left holding the bag when it comes to absorbing the economic impact of Diablo Canyon’s closing.
We’ll add three final thoughts:
First, it is extremely appropriate for legislation to take place when regulators and industry are unable to achieve a solution for an aggrieved population.
Second, SLO County and northern Santa Barbara County speak with one voice when it comes to the need for reasonable offsets to the Diablo Canyon closing impact.
And finally, there is a unique opportunity to leverage a modest amount of funding over the next decade or more to create a platform to reinvent the economies of SLO and northern Santa Barbara counties. The funding mandates of SB 1090 will return millions if not billions in new economic activity.
Editor’s note: Readers can submit letters of support to [email protected]