Jay Allen Sanford 9:45 p.m., May 19
The California Energy Commission convenes a meeting this morning in Los Angeles regarding the 2012 Integrated Energy Policy Report Update. The report focuses on the state’s long range clean energy goals and includes questions concerning the future of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
The 2011 Report concluded that contingency plans needed to be developed in the event of an extended outage or permanent shutdown of one of the state’s nuclear power plants, a situation Californians are currently experiencing.
Questions at the meeting will revolve around those backup plans, asking what more might need to be done, as well as on the implications of last year’s Fukushima Daiichi disaster on the relicensing process of California’s nukes and the need for enhanced seismic studies to determine their true earthquake readiness.
Regulators are expected to address the expected costs of these items, as well as those of retiring other power plants using “once-through cooling” systems. Development of alternative energy sources to these plants, which will need to be retired or modernized per a State Water Resources Control Board regulation, is to be discussed. At San Onofre, such a change could require the construction of massive cooling towers of the type traditionally associated with nuclear power plants.
Given the $670 million already invested in San Onofre’s failing steam generators, as well as the cost of securing replacement power while the plant remains idled, ongoing safety inspections and evaluations, and repairs that could be as extensive as requiring a complete system replacement, it appears the San Onofre shutdown will likely cost utility ratepayers well over $1 billion.
Attending the meeting will be members of the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Air Resources Board, and the California Independent System Operator.