PG&E has done enough for SLO County
October 22, 2016
OPINION by GORDON MULLIN
The California Public Utilities Commission held a public meeting this week giving interested parties the opportunity to present their thoughts to commissioners who are considering the Joint Proposal, an agreement between PG&E, several environmental groups and the union at Diablo Canyon, outlining details of the closure recently forced upon PG&E’s last remaining nuclear power plant.
Here’s my submission:
To the PUC board, thank you for this opportunity to comment on the Joint Proposal.
First, to PG&E: Thank you for creating and operating Diablo Canyon. I appreciate being able to tap into the thousands of megawatts of cheap, carbon free electricity that you have sold to us over the years. I know that your task has been bumpy and some segments of our community have been less than grateful for the service you provided, but I for one, am thankful and if I were king you would be able to continue providing megawatts far into the future.
In my view, there is no higher calling in our society than providing a product or service which is happily, and cheaply, utilized by we, the consumers. We tend to under-rate the value of the goods and services we receive, not realizing their importance to our lives until they are no longer here. A lesson soon to be relearned here in SLO county.
So to the management, employees and shareholders of PG&E for your years of excellent service to this community thank you.
However, in my view, you are being run out of town. PG&E I know would have preferred to continue in this service but the political forces in California gave you no option but closure.
I believe this was a poor decision but, I tilt at windmills here and I understand that the closure will occur. I’ve learned over the years that my failure to accept the inevitable gives me conniptions and hence I’ll sleep better if I let this fight go.
But, there is a final act still to be played out here in this county and it’s all about the end of the taxes paid by our current largest employer. City and county level governments, school boards, etc. are looking into a black hole approaching their budgets and they are understandably concerned.
I have several suggestions for these government entities but I do not have the time today to present them. For those interested, have a look at my earlier piece on the subject at CalCoastNews.
But, I’m here today to give one final comment to PG&E. In my view, you don’t owe us anything beyond what you’ve already generously agreed to in the joint proposal. For the next several years, you will be put under substantial political pressure to further mitigate the tax losses caused by you being run out of town, but I say it isn’t your fault and I see no need for you to dip into your coffers to give us more funds. When, for example, Albertsons grocery store decided to leave my neighborhood, no one asked them to pay for the taxes soon to be lost. And they left voluntarily, unlike PG&E.
So, for what it’s worth, I say PG&E, you’ve given enough already. I know our local government agencies will see you as the weak sugar daddy and they will, via the multiple state agencies that weld a sword over your head, attempt to force you to disgorge more funds than you’ve already promised in the joint proposal. But don’t.
The taxpayers of SLO county will have to grapple with the consequences of the closure and we have no right to seek mitigation from the guy we just tarred and feathered and ran out of town on a rail.