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Newsom considers extending nuclear usage as heat soars

 August 19, 2022 at 3:02 PM PDT

S1: Keeping California's only nuclear plant open may strengthen the state's energy grid.

S2: Diablo Canyon all by itself accounts for about 9% of in-state electric generation.

S1: I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. This is KPBS Midday Edition. A beloved children's book becomes a musical adventure in Escondido.

S3: Writing Toad teach us the power of the importance of friendship in our lives. What ? What are we without our friends ? It's a lonely world out there. So they just remind us , I think , that how important friendship is.

S1: And the Union-Tribune Festival of Books is highlighted in our weekend preview. That's ahead on Midday Edition. The first flex alert of the season was issued this week. Soaring temperatures across California threaten the capacity of the state's electricity grid. Managers of the grid fear the situation will only get worse as climate change continues to make summers hotter. So Governor Newsom is proposing a temporary extension to the life of California's only remaining nuclear plant at Diablo Canyon. The facility near San Luis Obispo is owned by Pacific Gas and Electric , and it's scheduled to close in 2025. One of the many factors complicating the proposal to keep it open are the costs involved , which may raise consumers energy bills across the state , including here in San Diego. Joining me is San Diego Union-Tribune , energy reporter Rob Nick MALESKY. And Rob , welcome back.

S2: Thank you , Mari.

S1:

S2: About 2200 2400 megawatts. And the governor's concern and some other state regulators concerns is that by taking Diablo Canyon offline , starting in 2024 and taking it completely offline by 2025 , that's the electricity grid in California , which is already strained , will go pretty much over the edge. And there could be an increased percentage or increased risk of power outages across the state.

S1:

S2: The governor's office released a legislative summary about a week ago that kind of went over the some of the details of this. And they talked about legislative summary. It's still not written in stone and nothing's come before the legislature yet , but the proposed extension would be for ten years.

S1: Now the costs involved are really staggering. They go into the hundreds of millions of dollars a year to fix up the plant for an extended use.

S2: There would be a fixed fee of $100 million. That's combined units one and two of Diablo Canyon and also a volumetric fee that would come to roughly $360 million a year if the power plant operates in recent levels of production. Two very important things. So you take that $100 million , $100 million from the fixed fee , plus the $360 million from the volumetric fee. That's $460 million. One of the important things to note is when I looked up the legislative summary , that's what caused me to write this story. It would be those that $460 million per year would be paid by all California Public Utilities Commission customers in that entire jurisdiction of the CPU sea. And that would include not just PGE and is a territory where Diablo Canyon is , but also San Diego Gas and Electric , Southern California Edison down in Los Angeles. One other very important thing to note here , $460 million a year would be a lot. However , that cost could be defrayed because the proposal that the governor is putting forth goes on to say that Diablo Canyon earns enough money in the California energy and capacity markets , that it would be enough to cover it. If that is enough to cover the fees , then the customers would receive a bill credit up to the amounts that they had paid in those fees. So that's a complicated way of saying that , yes , $460 million is what they're talking about. But if the power plant makes enough money in capacity and energy markets , that fee could go down. We don't know how much it's going to go down , though.

S1:

S2: Okay. If it's going to cost up to $460 million , how much does that translate to the average ratepayer across the state ? And I asked Gary Ackerman , who is a an energy expert who's got about four decades of experience in this. He gave me and this is a rough back of the envelope guesstimate , but he said it would work out to about a 3% increase in bills if there's no defray amount from the energy and capacity markets in California.

S1: There's only about two weeks left in the California legislative session.

S2: And still , as of Thursday or Friday of this week , no bill has been introduced to the legislature. One will certainly be introduced , but it's going to have to get through very , very quickly. It'll probably be issued as an emergency bill. Other bills have passed in a very short period of time. In fact , just about think it was three years ago the governor had an emergency bill having to do with wildfire funding that was able to get through. It was controversial , but it got through in the last few days. So this could be a rerun of that. It could happen. And it will be a real measure of the governor's sway over the legislature to see if they'll be able to get something like this. It's going to be controversial and expensive and could run some risks that that ratepayers across the state could have more a little bit more added to their bills. So it'll be a very interesting political situation. We'll see between now and August 31st.

S1: I've been speaking with San Diego Union-Tribune , energy reporter Rob Nicholas. Rob , thank you so much.

S2: Thank you , Mari.

S1: A series of classic children's books is now finding new life on stage and in the wilderness of East County. The Adventures of Frog and Toad taught many children how to read. KPBS education reporter MJ Perez tells us how the beloved characters are continuing their legacy of learning.

S3: This is Frog and Toad , and they are very best friends.

S4: Best friends living in a storybook world.

S3: Frog and Toad live in two different houses and they always like to do kind things for each other.

S4: A narrator reads to a captive audience at the San Diego Children's Museum in Escondido. Frog and Toad are the main characters in a classic series of children's books by Arnold Lobel. Their adventures were first written in the 1970s and have lived on in our imaginations for decades.

S3: Toad pushed and pulled on the rake. He rakes the leaves into a pile. Soon there was not a single leaf in frog's front yard.

S4: This is more than just a read aloud event at the Children's Museum. Young actors from Escondido , whose Patio Playhouse Community Theatre have joined the narrator to bring the beloved characters and their animal friends from the page to the stage. It's been a year with Frog , and Toad became a Broadway musical almost 20 years ago.

S3: I get to relive all my childhood fantasies of eating cookies and laughing at them , raking their yard and the leaves all getting blown away.

S4: Christopher Moore is a college music major performing the role of Toad.

S3: I hope that it gets a lot more kids into theaters so that we can share this amazing experience and gift with a lot more kids.

S4: Frog and Toad have endured because their stories are both entertaining and educational. The series is used in many classrooms to help students meet social emotional goals , especially now in the aftermath of COVID and its continuing consequences. Brenda Townsend is producer of the musical and a parent.

S3: Writing toad teach us the power of the importance of friendship in our lives. What ? What are we without ? You know , our friends. It's a lonely world out there. So they just remind us , I think , that how important friendship is.

S5: I wonder if we are brave , said Frog. Frog and Toad looked into a mirror. We look brave , said Frog.

S4: Chapters of the series are also being read in the wilderness of East County. Simon Brean is education director for Earth Discovery Institute , a nonprofit focused on educating children from marginalized communities about nature , science and conservation. They've just started a storybook hike in the 2800 acre Crest Ridge Ecological Reserve nestled between the outskirts of El Cajon and Alpine.

S5: This story , Dragons and Giants , is about frog and toad getting out into nature , overcoming their fears. They have some challenges they encounter with snakes , with just avalanches and all kinds of misadventures.

S4: Children and their families hike from one station to another , reading and reacting along their journey. Breen says this provides lessons in ecological competency.

S5: A lot of the kids that we bring out on field trips here to Crest Ridge , it's their first time they've ever been out to this type of nature. Maybe they've been to a local city park , but nothing like this. And a lot of them come with preconceived conceptions , and you can overcome those fears and learn to coexist with these animals that are really so valuable to us. And we. Need.

S4: Need. The reserve is open to families and other hikers from sunrise to sunset. And the stories of frog and Toad will be posted through the end of December. Beyond their other attributes , the tales are reminders of the reality of climate change. Sara Maisonneuve is executive director of Earth Discovery Institute.

S3: This is really essential that the public understand what those threats are , understand the importance of nature , and join us in protecting it.

S2: Don't mind if I do.

S4: So the singing best friends continue to teach lessons and bring the community together through books and on Broadway or in a community theater. Jamie Lynn Palmer brought her three year old daughter Lyla to the Discovery Museum musical preview performance.

S3:

S4: Yeah.

S3: Castillo , baby.

S4: M.G. Perez , KPBS News.

S1: The musical A Year with Frog and Toad opens tonight at the Kit Carson Amphitheater in Escondido , presented by Patio Playhouse through September 3rd. This is KPBS Midday Edition. I'm Maureen CAVANAUGH. In our weekend preview , we have a new play about a fictional female libido enhancement drug. New visual art books and some nostalgic rock. Joining me with all the details is KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. And , Julia , welcome.

S6: Hi , Marion. Thanks for having me.

S1: Well , we've got to start out with the libido drug that's in Moxie Theater. Their new play is The Pleasure Trials. Tell us about this one. Yeah.

S6: Yeah. It's a new play from playwright Sarah SOUTHWICK , and it chronicles a fictional pharmaceutical company. And they're holding clinical trials for a new drug that's touted to enhance the female libido. And the trials are incredibly popular. Of course , tons of women want in on this. And the play follows the fallout from all these elevated hopes for the drug's success and kind of what it means to think of that in terms of success , both in theory and in capitalism. And the play also delves into issues of empowerment , sex , stigma , pleasure , and also happiness. And it's a comedy. It's all directed by Marty Gobel with a great cast and accompaniment from cellist Sharon Taylor. It's not a musical , but it's a sort of accompaniment throughout the production. And this just opened at Moxie and this weekend shows are 8 p.m. tonight and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday , and then it's on stage through September 11th.

S1: There's a new solo exhibition at Sparks Gallery Downtown featuring the abstract paintings of Khalid al-Shaabi.

S6: And he came to San Diego in 2005 after fleeing the volatility in Iraq , and he was able to reroute his successful painting career that he left behind. So this is a new solo exhibition at Sparks Gallery , just opened last week , and Octavia's using light as a way of expressing the phases of emotions , the transformation and another fleeting things like passing or incomplete memories. And each piece has a kind of encapsulation of both darkness and lightness or negative and positive emotions , like with a swath , have really vivid or shimmery lightness made with a with a mark of paint. And his paintings are also really textural with those marks , and they'll be on View at Sparks through early October. And the gallery , which is downtown in the Gaslamp area , that's open every day , but their weekend hours are noon to seven today , 11 to 7 on Saturday and 11 to 5 on Sunday. And it's always free to pop in.

S1: So let's stay with visual art for one more. Tell us about the Time for Women Artists Group and their new exhibition in La Hoya.

S6: So this is a collective called TBWA or Time for Women Artists , and it's a group of 12 women who have been working and exhibiting together for about six years now , including a really powerful exhibition at Oceanside Museum last year. Some of the artists in this collective are men , really , to Brown , Gail Titus might say Benito Agony and Julius Caesar Gray. There's 12 women in total. And the more they all work together and the more I'm interested in seeing kind of how their works are responsive to each other's works. And the theme of this show is Turning Tides. So there is a range of interpretations on that. There's nature , but also ebb and flow and changes and transitions. And the works also are a range in media. There's sculpture , painting , mixed media and so on. And that opens today at B Free Studio in La Hoya. But there's a reception Saturday from 5 to 8. Then it'll be on view just through September 3rd , and this gallery is also free.

S1: Now the sixth annual San Diego Union-Tribune Festival of Books takes place tomorrow.

S6: It's held at USD and runs from 10 to 5 and this is the first time they've been in person since 2019 and the first time at this new venue. And San Diego really had nothing like this before the festival started and it quickly ballooned into something big , which really I think represents the books and reading community here as far as highlights. So we've had a bunch of the featured authors on the show throughout the week. Medullary Gauche , Alana Quintana Albertson , Jesse Leone , Adam Schiff , Liz Hurt , Christopher Carter , Pam Fong. They'll all be appearing on panels along with some other stars in literature right now , like Megan Giddings , Sylvia moreno , Garcia , Rudy Francisco , even David Duchovny. But aside from the panels , there is also plenty to do at the festival. Outside the grassy lawn will be overtaken by a bunch of our local independent bookstores , so you can browse books and also get books signed by the featured authors. There's also a children's courtyard with readings and activities , a poetry corner , local author and small press booths , food trucks and an entertainment stage. Parking is free on campus for the festival and there'll also be shuttles to get you from designated parking areas. The centre of the festival. And the big thing I'm excited for is the one book , one San Diego announcement that will take place at the welcome presentation in the main stage. That's at 10 a.m.. And KPBS general manager Deanna mackey will be there to make that announcement. But if you can't make it to the festival , you can also visit our website later that morning to find out which books will all be reading together next. Everything at the festival is free , but you can register for the panels in advance for either five bucks or for a smaller donation , depending on the panel. And some of them have already sold out , but there will be free stand by lines for everything on the day.

S1: And before we go , how about a little music ? Sure.

S6: So this is a show at the Casbah on Sunday night , and it features three local musicians , Frances Bloom Headlines with Lauren Lee and Lindsey White. Lauren Lee recently won the San Diego Music Award for Best Pop Song for her single Just Fall. And this will actually be Lindsey White's first full band show. And Frances Bloom is known for this seriously nostalgic sound. It's somewhere between Roy Orbison and then fellow nostalgia rocker Orville Peck. Maybe a little bit of Elvis , too. And we're listening to Blume's track Mary Jane and see the eerie. Hello.

S2: Hello. They have mercy on me.

S1: That's Mary Jane and Susie Lee from local singer songwriter Frances Bloom will perform at the Cats Box Sunday night. For details on these and more arts events or to sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS Arts newsletter , go to KPBS Dawgs Arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Thanks , Julia.

S6: Thank you , Maureen. Have a good weekend.

Soaring temperatures across California and a request to cut back on power usage this week raised questions about the reliability of the state’s electricity grid. Governor Newsom says temporarily extending the life of California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo could improve grid reliability but at a cost. Then, a series of classic children’s books is finding new life on stage and in the wilderness of East County. And, in our weekend preview, a play about a fictional female libido enhancement drug, visual art, the Union-Tribune Festival of Books and some nostalgic rock.