HOUSTON, April 30 Southern California Edison
(SCE) may decide to retire one or both reactors at its San
Onofre nuclear station by year end if U.S. nuclear regulators
deny its request to restart one of the station's damaged nuclear
reactors, said Ted Craver, chief executive of SCE parent Edison
International on Tuesday.
Both units at the 2,150-megawatt San Onofre nuclear station,
located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego, have been
shut since January 2012 following discovery of a serious problem
with accelerated degradation of tubes in the units' new steam
SCE is seeking approval from the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission to restart Unit 2 at a reduced rate and to run the
unit for five months.
Uncertainty over the timing of an NRC decision and over
SCE's ability to recover costs associated with the extended
outage are weighing on the company, Craver said on a call with
"Our overarching desire is for the various outside parties
to let the nuclear safety technical work proceed at the NRC to
ensure a safe and timely restart of Unit 2 without unnecessary
delay," Craver said.
However, a growing number of elected officials and
anti-nuclear groups are calling for a full public hearing of
safety issues at the San Onofre plant before the NRC decides to
allow either unit to restart.
"Without a restart of Unit 2, a decision to retire one or
both units would likely be made before year-end 2013," Craver
He declined to detail the company's plan, saying that "there
are many potential decision scenarios involving Unit 2 and Unit
"We look to narrow these uncertainties and the potential
operating scenarios for both units before the end of the year,"
The absence of the San Onofre nuclear output increased
California's dependence on natural gas-fired generation. While
gas prices in 2012 were 30 percent lower than in 2011 in
California, average wholesale electric prices eased just 2
percent, the California grid monitor said in a report issued
SCE has spent $109 million on San Onofre repair costs and
$444 million to buy replacement power to serve its customers.
"It's difficult for us to see continuing to underwrite the
costs without clarity on the rate-making treatment; without
clarity on what the NRC decision is going to be," Craver said.
Loss of San Onofre's output has strained southern
California's power grid and state agencies are planning for a
second summer without the plant.
Craver said the utility seeks recovery from Mitsubishi Heavy
Industries, which manufactured the replacement steam generators
and from a nuclear industry insurance fund.