March 20 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
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.