The End of Nukes in CA

Congrats PG&E!

Closing out a big news week in the clean energy world, what I’m most excited about is my client PG&E’s announcement that it is phasing out its Diablo Canyon Nuclear Generating Facility and replacing it with renewables, efficiency, and storage! On top of that, PG&E committed to an increased renewable portfolio standard of 55% by 2031.

While I didn’t work on the Diablo Canyon deal, the announcement does have a major ripple effect into my world, as it sends a very clear signal about the ever increasing demand for efficiency, renewables, and storage, and a grid that can support it all. Let’s be clear that this isn’t a signal to flood the market with renewable generation. Anyone who understands the duck curve knows that most renewable energy generation does not line up perfectly with demand. A huge influx of solar at 1 pm does nothing to satisfy a 5 pm peak demand when people start getting home for the day and blasting the A/C (and, increasingly, plugging in their cars). Nukes and natural gas-fired power plants take care of that need for now, and that need is not going away.

Energy efficiency is a piece of the puzzle that is still under-utilized despite being one of the best investments around. Energy storage will become exponentially more important to utilities being able to influence timing of supply. Other services, hardware, and software that enable the grid to more deftly respond to ever increasing distributed resources will be key in making the new system function.

What gets more complicated, and more interesting, is to think about how we are going to pay for it all, where interests can align, and who is best situated to profit. The implications for utilities, service providers, policymakers, and investors are huge. It is not simple, but if it were, I wouldn’t be having so much fun!

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