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Coalition of local leaders announce partnership to help plan future use of Diablo Canyon

Diablo Canyon
Coalition forms to help plan future use of Diablo Canyon Power Plant site. (File photo: Dave Alley/KEYT)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- A coalition of Central Coast leaders announced a broad-based partnership that will help plan the future transformation of the Diablo Canyon property once the nuclear power plant is closed in 2025.

During a one-hour online presentation Friday morning, REACH, the Regional Economic Action Coalition, along with other stakeholders, offered potential uses for the site of the plant, a 600-acre property known as Parcel P.

It also included conservation plans for the surrounding 12,000 acre property, along with the 14-miles of coastline that line the site.

"The opportunity before us is to shape the future of the existing facilities and infrastructure, plus the 12,000 acres of pristine land and 14 miles of unspoiled coastline into an attractive mix of land conservation honoring the legacy of the ytt Northern Chumash, sustainable ecotourism, renewable energy, water resilience and cutting-edge research and development," said Melissa James, REACH President/CEO. "With decisions about decommissioning and future use being made in the near term, we must work urgently and collaboratively to ensure that the region's best long term interests are planned for and pursued."

James announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed by nine stakeholders that will help shape the planning of the Diablo Canyon site.

"This agreement, through a Memorandum of Understanding, is between Cal Poly, The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo, the ytt Northern Chumash, the Tri-Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, and elected officials from the county, state and federal levels, in addition to REACH," said James. "The purpose of the MOU is to create a framework for collaboration and action to advance community interests, both in the immediate and in the long term."

The group is focusing its effort on job creation by repurposing uses for facilities near the plant site in an area known as Parcel P.

"Leveraging Parcel P makes for endless possibilities from climate and energy planning efforts to energy storage systems, to renewable resources, plus there's marine biotech and many other developing technologies," said Dawn Ortiz-Legg, San Luis Obipso Third District Supervisor. "Preserving the industrial footprint on Parcel P offers the opportunity for San Luis Obispo County to carry on its 100 years-plus tradition of being an energy exporting county."

In addition to employment opportunities, the site could be used as a place for educational programs.

"We are actively investigating ways we may be able to play a role in research, innovation, and education programming in areas such as off-shore wind, and other renewables and marine research," said Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong. "The future of Diablo Canyon represents a gateway to the new frontier of the green economy in renewable energy and blue economy in aqua-culture. Reuse of the property supported by a trust also provides an avenue for Cal Poly to grow and meet the increasing demand for Cal Poly graduates in the region and across the state and U.S."

An especially important goal for the coalition will be the preservation of the 12,000 acre property that surrounds the power plant, which includes 14 miles of pristine coastline between Avila Beach and Montand de Oro State Park.

"We welcome the opportunity to participate in a community process where our culture, traditions, and ancestral connection to the Pecho Coast, can guide the future of our homelands," said Scott Lathrop, ytt Northern Chumash Nonprofit President. "Ytt is confident this partnership will lead the way to a vibrant future. for the Pecho Coast. We are excited and ready to get started on the task ahead."

The group said work begins immediately since the clock is ticking. Diablo Canyon is set to close in 2025.

"The Central Coast has always been a centerpoint of creativity and innovation. I envision a renewable energy hub here on the Central Coast, which we can achieve by encouraging green energy development and embracing new technologies. Through investments and incentives, we can attract new businesses that create good paying jobs and develop programs with the potential to produce highly-skilled, quality careers, all while setting us on a path to a more sustainable future," said Rep. Salud Carbajal. "This will ensure those who live on the Central Coast are able to continue to earn a living here. There is no single perfect solution for replacing Diablo Canyon. However, if we invest in modern solutions to fortify our future, we can emerge with a stronger economy that benefits our workers and our environment."

Business Matters / California / Environment / Money and Business / San Luis Obispo County / Technology
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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.

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