The impact of Diablo Canyon on your Power Bills
San Francisco-based PG&E is planning on phasing out of its Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in San Luis Obispo County when their operating licenses with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission expire in November 2024 and August 2025.
In August 2018, PG&E conceded that this means monthly power bills for PG&E residential customers would likely go up.
It turns out that the combined effect of the newly approved law and prior action by the California Public Utilities Commission related to the plant’s shutdown potentially could produce a 1.2 percent increase in PG&E customers’ monthly bills.
Although there may be long term benefits as PG&E moves to cleaner energy, PG&E conceded that the average customer’s bills will rise probably until 2026.
The impact of this is also on individual investment decisions. Most residential and business energy customers when looking at their electricity options now have to build in the likely increase in PG&E electricity supply for many years.
Why Prices Will Rise
The shutdown also directs the PUC to approve an $85 million payment to San Luis Obispo County, some cities in the area and a local school district to ease the loss of economic benefits that the plant contributes. This provision was criticized by some consumer groups because it means PG&E customers would be obliged to make up for the loss of some property taxes when the plant closes.
Understand your choices through an Audit
Where does this leave the consumer? There are several steps residences as well as businesses can take.
Firstly, you must understand the efficiency of your home system. We don’t just mean look at your bills! Most homeowners won’t realize how much energy they’re actually using and how much is actually necessary. Here’s where an audit can be important to see how you can make some quick fixes to start saving immediately. A close look at the layout and current condition of your home allows you to focus on energy waste- where the heating or air conditioning you pay for leaks out. It’s a simple fix to prevent energy wastage around windows, vents, doors, pipes, and even the corners and seams around your home.
It’s then important to look at the major energy-consuming devices in your home and for most of us, this will be out hot water supply and air conditioning. Now is the time to ensure that these units are working at peak efficiency and also consider how you actually use them. Do you need aircon on all day? Is your unit programmable so you can turn the aircon down a few notches when you’re out? Are you heating water when you don’t need to? Is your aircon unit appropriate for the size of the room? And lastly, are your units Energy Star rated by the EPA?
This also highlights that there has never been a better time to think about installing solar panels for your own energy source. Southern California is one of the sunniest parts of mainland USA and as we get sun across the year it makes sense to make use of the potential of using it to power our homes.
With solar panels installed, you’ll be able to generate your own clean power, entirely from free sunshine. As a result, you will always save money eventually. The PG&E decision means that the calculations are now different. If your solar savings amount to $100 a month, for example, it would take about 13 years for a $15,000 solar installation to break even. However, this assumes energy prices stay constant but we now know that definitely won’t be the case. Similarly, most residential solar installations qualify for the Federal Investment Tax Credit and in California you can even sell electricity back to PG&E so the upfront impact is a lot less.
The situation will vary according to your individual circumstances. Here at smart72 we can help with finding out what grants are available as well as completing a full energy audit for your home.