ATASCADERO — The Diablo Canyon Decommissioning Engagement Panel, a public outreach group convened to assess options for property under California’s last remaining nuclear power facility, held a two day public workshop at Atascadero City Hall on Sept. 14-15.
Compared to turnout for the panel’s regular discussion meetings, not many members of the public took an interest in person, but approximately 10 hours of proposals and informational presentations from community organizations are now being archived on the SLOSPAN website, the online home for many of the County’s agency meetings.
The 11-member panel is comprised of representatives from the local community who were selected by local officials to give a broad sampling of interest groups and viewpoints. From the North County, former County Supervisor Frank Mecham, is on the panel along with Atascadero resident David Baldwin. Currently serving elected officials were not permitted to apply, but there were over 100 community members lining up for the opportunity to serve.
Jon Franke, vice president of Power Generation, for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), also serves on the panel to receive direct input from the public, and insight into what the decommissioning process itself will entail.
Presenters at the Sept. 14-15 meeting were members of the public who specifically requested time for extended proposals to the panel and were invited to participate beyond the usual 3-minute public comment sessions allowed at monthly meetings. A previous workshop in August was held in Pismo Beach addressing the land use for the massive acreage around the facility, and panelists commented that the turnout in favor of conservation on the property was opening.
The most recent workshops addressed options for the actual buildings and footprint of the plant itself.
Handling the overwhelming amount of information presented at the end of the day Sept. 14, panelists discussed the possibility that a lead agency might take charge of the planning process. To wit, Franke noted, that the utility company is working with a fairly large agency, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). For an agency to oversee any final plans, PG&E will have to finish drafting one, which is the point of the advisory panel to aid in.
Consideration of the plan will be the subject of an ongoing regulatory process that will begin with the filing of the Nuclear Decommissioning Cost Triennial Proceeding in December 2018, according to PG&E public outreach documents explaining the process.
Panel facilitator Chuck Anders, owner of the firm Strategic Initiatives and a Central Coast resident for two decades, said the time was now to get the draft elements of a plan in place before the facility begins to shutdown in 2024-2025.
“It’s hard because we are still about six years out,” he said. “It’s hard to get people involved when it doesn’t seem immediate, but five to six years is about how long it takes to enact a plan, too. So if we want to be ready we need to start now.”
He added that himself, and everyone involved on the panel take their role seriously, “it’s a real honor to be asked to take part in something so crucial to our region.”
While he works on contract with PG&E to ensure the smooth running of the group, and PG&E makes the final decisions on what will go into the plans they submit, Anders said he sees the body playing a significant role in the years to come.
The panel holds monthly meetings in San Luis Obispo at the County Government building on the last Wednesday of each month with the next slated for Wednesday, Sept. 26.
Videos of past workshops are online at slo-span.org/static/meetings-PGE.php
The Sept. 26 meeting in San Luis Obispo will cover emergency planning, both funding and operations.