UPDATE 1-San Diego power company to buy electricity, urges conservation

Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:32pm EDT

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By Scott DiSavino
    June 12 (Reuters) - San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) has
agreed to buy power from privately held Apex Power Group's Pio
Pico natural gas-fired power plant in California to maintain
adequate long-term power supplies after the retirement of the
San Onofre nuclear plant.
    "The new facility will contribute to local capacity
requirements and will be instrumental in maintaining a reliable
electric system," Jennifer Ramp, a spokeswoman at SDG&E, told
Reuters Wednesday.
    The 300-megawatt (MW) Pio Pico plant in San Diego County is
expected to enter service in the autumn of 2015, SDG&E said. The
California Energy Commission said last year the plant would cost
about $300 million to build.
    One megawatt can power about 800 homes.
    SDG&E, a unit of California power company Sempra Energy
, said in a release Tuesday it has enough power to keep
San Diego's air conditioners humming this summer but urged
customers to be prepared to conserve energy.
    "While SDG&E has lined up the electric resources necessary
to supply our customers with enough power this summer, in the
event of an extended heat wave, we expect that we will need to
ask customers to reduce their energy use," SDG&E Chairman and
CEO Jessie Knight said in the release.
    SDG&E said it has already made plans to meet customers'
energy needs for a second straight summer without San Onofre.
    On June 7, Southern California Edison (SCE), a unit of
California power company Edison International and the
majority owner and operator of the 2,150-megawatt (MW) San
Onofre plant, decided to permanently retire the nuclear plant.
 
    SDG&E owns 20 percent of San Onofre.
    The two reactors at San Onofre shut in January 2012
following a small radioactive leak from the steam generators in
one of the units, and remained out after workers discovered
unusual tube wear in the steam generators.
    In March California utility regulators denied an application
by SDG&E to buy power from Pio Pico and another plant called
Quail Brush. The regulator at that time said the utility did not
demonstrate a need for additional power before 2018.
 
    But that was before SCE decided to retire San Onofre.
    To meet its energy requirements, the state allowed SDG&E to
file a new application using either Pio Pico or Quail Brush or
by filing a new application, SDG&E's Ramp said.
    "We decided to file a new application using Pio Pico," she
said, noting the company expects to file the application with
regulators next week.
    SDG&E provides power to 1.4 million customers and natural
gas to more than 860,000 customers in San Diego and southern
Orange counties.
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