I’m here to speak to decisions and opportunities that lay ahead for our community and for our state. We have a unique chance here to shape major policy and investment choices in a collaborative way that can yield significant conservation and economic benefits. The prospects ahead will afford us several different ways to strengthen regional collaboration as we work together to transform our challenges into productive possibilities.
As you know, the Board of Supervisors has been keenly focused on Diablo related issues and we will continue to intervene in the state CPUC process to ensure the county as a whole is represented. We have identified this process as a high level strategic planning item and we have actively intervened in the state CPUC process to be certain our local voice is heard. We’ve also worked hard on SB 1090 to ensure the unintended economic consequences of state energy policy are mitigated in our local towns and cities.
It is imperative that we think very strategically and maximize the opportunity this long planning horizon gives us.
To that end, while I remain concerned about how the state will replace all the energy generated at Diablo Canyon Power Plant, meaning, it would be a very bad bet if green house gases increase because fossil fuel has to be utilized until renewables can replace the base-load power. However, I’m excited about the renewed opportunities this transition can provide us – if we don’t squander it. That is the key here.
Specifically, we should be thinking about the lands for conservation in a sequential manner, in phases. If portions of the lands are not affected or encumbered by the utility’s direct ownership or the decommissioning project, I suggest to the panel we want to be able to pursue conservation on those lands as soon as possible. More specifically, given the changing dynamics, including that a state parks bond was recently approved by the voters, I think we should renew a Wild Cherry Canyon conservation effort tonight.
There’s no reason the lands owned by an affiliate company to PG&E that don’t impact the actual decommissioning project should be tied up with and delayed by a decade or more to wait and see what happens. We need to pounce on the alignment of the park bond, and the new focus on our area. Let’s make this happen – and let’s start tonight. No one at your workshops or that has contacted my office has advocated for development –everyone wants some form of conservation.
And I have been working quietly but diligently over the course of a few years now, with a very small group of local leaders that can make the community’s dream of owning Wild Cherry Canyon a reality. I hope you will forcefully recommend that the WCC property be detached from the decommissioning planning now, and that we be given the opportunity to own this beautiful land for public use.
Thus, I also encourage the Panel and PG&E to be flexible. If a partner or partners can be brought in to stretch limited public dollars for conservation acquisition with a public private partnership, then that opportunity should be fully explored. Again – we have waited long enough – I feel confident that we have a way to make HomeFed and PG&E financially whole so the public can own this precious asset forever. It’s simple – we have a great opportunity here and we shouldn’t squander it or quibble about subtleties–let’s preserve Wild Cherry Canyon, and let’s start the process now. I have people in place who know how to make such a deal happen.
That leads me to the concepts I’ve heard about for repurposing and re-use–which I know the panel will take up next month. I think it is important to be bold. We can have a new waterfront marina, and a place where renewable power, ecological, agricultural recreational, economic and education activities can flourish together in a campus like environment – so let’s make that happen. The County’s partnership with Cal Poly has never been stronger. The County’s partnership with our Cities is also at a high point. Our tourism sector is fantastic and growing and another pride and joy of my district, our airport, is booming. All signs are good and interests can be aligned.
Also, let’s think about a resilient water strategy for the region that includes looking at the desalination facilities at the plant. The future uses on site will need water and a partnership with the County, one we had planned for, will again make sense. In fact, the future of the desal plant continues to be the most asked about subject by my constituents. Perhaps no other matter could be of more importance to our community’s future water security.
Finally, I want to reiterate that the county’s role is to be a regulator, an intervenor/watchdog and a catalyst to this project. We want to get started now.
It’s going to take decades to do this – and it will be hundreds of small decisions that will crescendo into a very big set of plans that will benefit our community and state for centuries to come.
Thank you again for your service to our community and for your thoughtful deliberations.