EVC ousted from $1 million Diablo Canyon closure study

A leadership change is in the works for a study of the economic impact of the planned closure of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The cost had ballooned to approximately $1 million while the state of California is in the process of creating a near-duplicate report.

The nonprofit Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC) had been tasked with leading a project to analyze the economic impact of the closure of Diablo Canyon and create a strategic plan for local agencies to mitigate the financial effects of the nuclear plant shutdown. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) was reached between the EVC and San Luis Obispo County and local cities on the study and strategic plan.

In a recent letter to the EVC, the county and multiple cities state the nonprofit failed to meet its fundraising requirement and encountered problems in its relations with a contractor. The letter notes, though, that the scope and scale of the project have risen, as has the cost.

“This project has experienced a number of difficulties, including project delays, project management issues and communication challenges,” the county and participating cities state in a letter informing the EVC they are terminating the MOU.

The EVC failed to reach it initial fundraising target of $120,000 by Aug. 30, which was part of its requirement for managing the first phase of the project, according to the letter. The second phase of the project consists of local government funding that was contingent upon the EVC meeting its fundraising deadline.

Additionally, the EVC has had challenges in dealing the contractor Vital Economy, the letter states. Vital Economy recently sent a letter alleging breaches on the part of the EVC and threatening to terminate is contractual involvement in the project.

San Luis Obispo County will now take the lead on the project.

The economic impact study will move forward, even though a law authored by Sen. Bill Monning requires the California Public Utilities Commission to conduct a study of its own — albeit using a 3rdparty to do the work — that, too, evaluates the economic impact of the closure of Diablo Canyon. The law, SB 968, allocates $400,000 from nuclear decommissioning funds for the study.

In the letter sent to the EVC, the county and cities state the “parallel data study” requires coordination with several statewide government agencies.

“These developments have created a need for expertise and project management that appears to exceed the EVC’s resources and capacity at this time,” the letter states.