Report: Diablo Canyon nuclear plant has $2B economic impact

Source:Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

New study details $2 billion nationwide economic impact of Diablo Canyon nuclear power station from plant sales, purchases, and payrolls.

A new study led by the Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business calculates the total annual economic impact of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) at $2 billion nationwide, $1.1 billion in California, and $920 million in San Luis Obispo and northern Santa Barbara counties.

DCCP is a nuclear power facility owned and operated by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) (NYSE:PCG). Its two units together produce approximately 2,300 net megawatts of carbon-free electricity, nearly ten percent of all electricity generated in California, and enough energy to meet the needs of more than 3 million Northern and Central Californians.

The report also estimates that the plant's operations created nearly 10,400 jobs nationally, including more than 4,500 in California. The study projects tens of billions of dollars of future economic benefits if the plant is relicensed a decade from now.

"This document underscores Diablo Canyon's significance to our region," said Michael Manchak, President and CEO of the San Luis Obispo-based Economic Vitality Corporation. "Economic impact studies that evaluate an engine of a local economy help a community and its leaders make informed decisions and plans about jobs and the economic health of a region."

"Although the primary goal of PG&E and our many local Diablo Canyon employees is to keep the plant running safely and to provide our customers with affordable, zero-emissions electricity, we also value our place in the community," said PG&E Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Ed Halpin. "We take pride in the documented role that the plant plays in powering the local economy and helping to fund local government and charitable activities."

The report notes that the plant has a profound effect on the local coastal communities of which it has long been a part, thanks to the large number of stable, highly skilled jobs it supports. "DCPP's location in the largely rural area of California's Central Coast makes it one of the few providers of a large number of well-paying, head-of-household jobs in the region," it states. "In addition, DCPP employment is not seasonal or cyclical, as are agricultural and tourism-related jobs that dominate the local labor scene. Additionally, while the public sector provides many high paying jobs in the county, they are affected by California's state budget crisis, while DCPP jobs are not."

The plant's operation also generated about $181 million in federal, state, and local taxes in 2011. At the local level, it pays more than $25 million in property taxes that support local school districts, public safety and health programs, and other services. Its operations also generated more than $5 million in local sales taxes, which fund important public functions.

In addition, PG&E provides millions of dollars to the San Luis Obispo County Office of Emergency Services and other entities to support diverse, offsite preparedness programs. The report also credits PG&E with providing $1.1 million in charitable donations to more than 90 non-profit organizations in the vicinity of the plant. The utility's employees further donated more than 32,000 hours of their time to a variety of local causes, including programs for youth, education, seniors, fine arts, and the environment.

Looking far into the future, the report estimates that if the plant's operating licenses are extended by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the plant's total local economic impact would exceed $42 billion over 20 years. If the plant were to shut down, the annual economic impact of remaining site operations would plummet 99 percent.

The study, which was commissioned by PG&E, considers the direct impact of the plant's wholesale electricity sales, along with its purchases, payroll, retiree pensions, property tax contributions to local governments, and local philanthropy. It uses standard software, originally developed at the University of Minnesota, to model the plant's diverse impacts.

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