Testimony of Ralph Cavanagh – Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee – August 25, 2922

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Ralph Cavanaugh – NRDC

Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee – August 25, 2922

At minute: 00:40:16:01

Re: SB 846 

Diablo Canyon powerplant: extension of operations


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Speaker 1 (00:00):

And I will, uh, go, we’ll hear from Ralph Kavanaugh, he’s the energy program. Co-director with the natural resources defense council, uh, Mr. Kavanaugh, we see you

Ralph Cavanaugh (00:19):

Chair Hoso senators. I’m Ralph Ralph Cavanaugh representing the natural resources defense council. More than six years ago, I was honored to be among the strikingly diverse group that announced the joint proposal to retire and replace the Ablo canyon. A hunter has just discussed that proposal, national and local environmental groups, representatives of plants’ workers and owner. And we were joined soon after the announcement by the leadership of the plant’s host communities. Now a few critical features of that agreement. First, it was a life extension agreement for Diablo canyon. It extended a critical state permit by seven years. That agreement is the reason why Diablo canyon will be around this summer and next summer and the summer after that, and for unit two, August of 2025, uh, helping to make sure that California has reliable and affordable power, but the joint proposal also rested on an analysis showing that costs for Diablo canyon would rise significantly after 2025.

And that the plant would be an increasingly poor fit with a rapidly evolving California electricity grid. So we provided, as hunter said, for replacement of the plant with a portfolio of zero carbon resources, which would reduce cost and improve reliability. And we provided for and recommended compensation for the workers to retain them on the job for the communities to help them with the transition. And as I think my friend hunter stern will acknowledge all of those promises have been kept in part because you senators ratified that agreement almost unanimously in Senate bill 10 90, authored by then majority we or bill Monning and Republican assemblyman Jordan Cunningham. So the question for us today is what has changed that matters that would cause you to repudiate an agreement you ratified almost unanimously four years ago, and what is missing from the very thorough background report that was submitted in advance of this hearing and from commissioner, Douglas’s very thorough and admirable remarks.

And I venerate her and this is not, there’s no attack on her, but something was missing from all of that. Wasn’t missing because of their, it was their fault. It was missing because it doesn’t exist. And what doesn’t exist is a published report by any of the state’s energy regulatory agencies recommending a Diablo canyon life extension, or comparing it with the cost and availability of alternatives. What is missing is any assessment by Diablo Canyon’s owner, whom you’ve just heard from, or any other California utility or community choice aggregator, providing a rationale for life extension, what commissioner Douglas showed you is a need for. And what hunter testified to is a need to acquire additional resources during some hours of the day in September of 2025 and afterward. And the obvious question is, well, what are our alternatives and what are our best choices? And normally in California, we answer that question by conducting a comp a competitive test, we go out for proposals.

We can look for resources all over a gigantic Western grid. That’s seven times the size of Texas that extends well beyond San Louis Obispo, a marvelous place, but we’re not doing any of that. Instead you are being asked in the final days of this session to declare a very expensive winner in a competition that your electricity regulators haven’t organized, or even analyzed, you don’t know how much this will cost or who will pay. Although mark, Tony will have plenty to say about both in a moment, and you have been told there may be federal subsidies, giant federal subsidies. But what wasn’t mentioned was a submission to the us department of energy by NRDC and numerous other parties, including friends of the earth, showing that Diablo canyon doesn’t qualify for those federal subsidies, which are only available. The nuclear plants exposed to competitive markets who are, who can document op operating losses and DBU canyon is neither.

You have been given no remotely adequate reason here in the final days of this session to repudiate a retirement and replacement agreement that you ratified almost unanimously four years ago, you have been shown graphs indicating that we may need 1800 megawatts during certain hours in 2025, where might you get 1800 megawatts? Well, in 2000 and 2001, when we had a statewide electricity crisis, that many of you remember, well, the governor’s office organized energy efficiency and demand response campaigns that cut our electricity use during peak hours by 4,800 megawatts, more than double the capacity of at DLO canyon in a matter of months. And we are looking out today at three years. And if I were asked for the perfect person to lead a similar campaign, uh, for governor Newsome, I’d pick Karen Douglas senators. One last thing I want you to know that not many people know about the joint proposal or retire and replaced the ALO canyon, the instigator, the man who started the effort and was critical to its success was a longtime skeptic and adversary of PG and E by the name of S David Freeman.

And many of you knew him, the negotiations, which he catalyzed began on his 90th birthday and PG and E basically graciously gave him a birthday cake. And I know what Dave Freeman would have to say about this proposal to effectively repudiate his extraordinary achievement, which he shared with many others, not any of it would be remotely printable. So I’m not going to try to voice him. I’m simply going to close by asking you to honor his legacy and the magnificent precedent that he inspired in that joint proposal with the workers, with the communities with so many who have worked so long on the ALO canyon. And I’m asking you to decline the invitations to repudiate that legacy, that precedent. Thank you.