Calif. to rely on more conservation amid extended nuclear outage

March 20 Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:36pm EDT

March 20 (Reuters) - California's electric grid agency warned Wednesday that a second summer without output from the damaged San Onofre nuclear plant presents more challenges than last year and will force the agency to rely on voluntary conservation to avert rolling blackouts.

"This summer will be more difficult than last," Steven Berberich, president of the California Independent System Operator (ISO), said at an ISO board meeting.

The 2,150-megawatt San Onofre nuclear station, owned by Edison International and Sempra Energy, has been shut since January 2012 after the discovery of premature tube wear that damaged thousands of tightly packed tubes inside the large steam generators.

San Onofre, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, is the largest power plant in the southern California and its extended shutdown creates reliability problems in south Orange County and the San Diego area, ISO officials said.

Grid officials are closely watching California's supply of hydro power for the summer which is expected to be about two-thirds of normal, Berberich said.

"If it's hot, we will have to lean on (conservation) programs," Berberich said.

Last summer, the ISO recalled two aging power plants to bolster electric supply in Southern California, but the Huntington Beach 3 and 4 units, owned by AES Corp can not restart this summer due to a lack of air emission credits.

Berberich said the agency still expects that the Huntington Beach units will be converted into synchronous condensers that can provide the grid with voltage support by the summer.

An AES official could not be reached for comment.

The conversion project will help increase power imports into Southern California but is not a replacement for the generating capacity available last year, Berberich said.

In 2012, the grid agency issued "Flex Alerts" during a week-long heat wave in August to encourage consumers to reduce electric consumption in the afternoon and early evening hours.

Grid officials are working on more formal energy efficiency programs that can be relied on to curb demand when supplies are tight. One ISO commissioner said it appeared consumers used more power in some instances after the Flex Alerts were issued last summer.

Berberich told the ISO board that he does not expect either San Onofre unit to produce electricity this summer even though Southern California Edison, which operates San Onofre, is working to gain approval from nuclear regulators to operate Unit 2 at a reduced rate for five months.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff may make a recommendation on whether San Onofre 2 can restart in May or June, according to the NRC website.

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Comments (2)
trahana wrote:
these SCE CEO are CROOKS who wear $50,000.00 suits want bigger pay raise want to increase Rates for bad Service and then they Buy Cheap and shoddy parts for a nuclear Plant.
Just where is the Nuclear Waste going to be Stored and will Californian pay top dollar for Waste Disposal?
Nuclear energy is an accident waiting to Happen. Just look at Japan. they have no place to put Nuclear Waste. THIS nuclear Power is TOO Dangerous for America. No More Nuclear Power Plants there other means but these Crooks want to RAPE America.

Mar 20, 2013 9:33pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
genestone wrote:
With just a little energy conservation on the part of Californians San Onofre nuclear power plant can stay off-line forever and we will be much better off because of it. We could easily start a program such as “Wattless Wednesday” one day of the week for conservation.

In my opinion the public needs to demand is a investigation by a special prosecutor or the General Accounting Office (GAO) of what some people call the collision between SCE and the NRC to see if there’s been any criminal or negligent behavior by either party.

Mar 21, 2013 3:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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