California Legislature passes Diablo Canyon settlement bill

Following a state Assembly vote on Monday, local government agencies now just need a signature from California Gov. Jerry Brown in order to regain the $85 million Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant retirement settlement package that they previously had appeared to lose.

In January, the California Public Utilities Commission approved the closure of the nuclear plant but rejected a proposed settlement in which PG&E would dole out $85 million to local government agencies as compensation for lost tax revenue. The CPUC decision upheld a ruling against the settlement issued by Peter V. Allen, an administrative law judge.

Allen’s ruling stated the proposed settlement hinged on a PG&E rate hike that would have contradicted general rate making principles and public utility law. Ratepayers should not be required to pay for local government services that are typically funded by taxpayers, Allen said.

Central Coast lawmakers Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo) responded to the CPUC decision by co-authoring SB 1090. The bill would amend the Public Utilities Act and require the CPUC to approve the $85 million settlement.

Additionally, SB 1090 would require the CPUC to approve a $350 million PG&E employee retention program, as initially written into the settlement agreement. The CPUC approved a smaller employee retention package of $222 million.

PG&E spokesman Blair Jones told The Mercury News the bill would result in an increase of about .2 percent to the average customer’s monthly bill. The increase would be removed from rates in 2026, Jones said.

SB 1090 passed the Assembly on a 67-1 vote. It previously passed the Senate on a 31-4 vote.

“The closure of Diablo Canyon is a major hit to our community and will be felt for decades,” Cunningham said. “While we can’t fully replace the economic benefits and energy created by Diablo Canyon, this bipartisan bill will help cushion the blow for the Diablo workforce and our community.”

Monning said he hopes Gov. Brown will be supportive of the “carefully planned retirement” of Diablo Canyon and will sign the bill.

Brown has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto the legislation.

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