Solar instead of seismic

Posted by Christine, September 6, 2012

PG&E’s plan to map earthquake faults around Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant will cost the public $64 million. If they get the data they want, the plant won’t be any safer. It and its spent nuclear waste will still be there, a catastrophe waiting to happen.

What if that $64 million were spent on installing solar panels on homes and businesses in San Luis Obispo County? Instead of killing fish and marine mammals, instead of displacing local fishermen, instead of chasing away tourists who come to view the marine wildlife, SLO county residents could start moving away from nuclear power.

PG&E claims they have to perform these destructive tests, which will blast the ocean with 250-decibel air guns every 15 seconds, 24/7 for 33 days, to create a better 3-D model of what could happen to the plant during an earthquake. The death of whales, dolphins, fish and otters, is collateral damage that can’t be helped. The official phrase is Significant and Unavoidable.

All the horror is avoidable. PG&E’s product is electrical power. We’re smart enough to have better ways to get that. That $64 million would buy solar panels, installed and working, for 3,200 homes, producing 24,762,000 kW hours of electricity each year.

PG&E would save $743,000/year on wholesale energy costs at $0.04/kW wholesale price.

If PG&E set up a leasing program for their customers @ $0.15/kw, a nickel per Kw less than a standard lease, PG&E could create an income of $3.7 million/year. That would give the company a Return on Investment near six percent. Added to that three quarters of a million dollars savings, it’s close to seven percent.

Installing solar on local businesses would save PG&E even more: about $1,320,000/year on wholesale energy costs at $0.04/kw wholesale price. With a leasing program at $0.12/kW, three cents per kW less than a standard commercial lease, PG&E would get $4 million a year. That’s a Return on Investment of over six percent. The cost savings on energy purchased brings their ROI up to seven and a half percent.

PG&E gets to provide clean energy without destroying local fishing, recreation and tourism. Diablo Canyon is a major economic backbone of SLO County, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Spending even this preliminary $64 million on solar energy would create 100 full-time local jobs for a year. Such an infusion of money into solar installations could spark interest and inspire more individuals and businesses to Go Solar.

“PG&E could sub out the installations to local installers, which would create even more jobs,” said Kristian Emrich, vice president of Solarponics, Inc., who provided these figures. “That would increase awareness and competition, driving increased growth in renewable energy sales.”

Homeowners who don’t have electric bills to pay can use that money on other things, from paying the mortgage to putting food on the table. Maybe they’ll go to a movie or eat out at a restaurant. That means about $500,000 in local spending that now goes to PG&E, in the first year alone. It gets better, increasing by about six percent a year.

Solarponics crews and other local solar installers are ready to go to work.

For more information, contact

Kristian Emrich, 805-466-5595,

Christine Heinrichs, 805-203-5018,

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