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Southern California Edison, operator of the long-idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, confirmed yesterday afternoon (April 8) that it had submitted a formal request for a license amendment to its operating license to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The request makes the same case as the draft proposal that the Reader reported on last week, seeking to redefine “full power” as 70 percent of operating capacity, which would allow the plant to run under a reduced load for five months to test a theory that the lower power level would solve the vibration problem with defective steam generators installed in 2009 and 2010.

A change from the initial draft request has the utility volunteering to submit a report on the steam generators to the Commission within 60 days of shutdown after the test run, rather than the usual six months.

Edison has asked the Commission to rule on its request by May 24 in order to allow for a June 1 restart of the Unit 2 reactor, which was shut down for maintenance when its twin, Unit 3, had a generator tube burst and released a small amount of radiation into the atmosphere. Federal regulators have said that ruling on such a time frame could prove “challenging.”

Meanwhile, supporters of state Senate Bill 418 a measure sponsored by the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility and co-authored by California Senator Marty Block and Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, both San Diegans, continues to move forward. The bill does not address San Onofre’s current steam generator woes, but would require an assessment of cost effectiveness as part of any operating license extension sought there or at Diablo Canyon, California’s other active nuclear plant.

Says Alliance executive director Rochelle Becker:

This is strictly a cost transparency measure that does not close these facilities, but rather requires that ratepayers are told all the associated costs of nuclear energy. In the past, cost assessments were doled out over time, creating a false impression that nuclear power seems cheaper than it is. Many today have forgotten the original billions of dollars in cost overruns we’ve been paying for since the construction of these plants. The right questions need to be asked this time around, because we can’t afford these costly mistakes again.

Also, over the weekend the California Independent System Operator reported that a windy Sunday resulted in the state’s combined wind generators producing 4,196 megawatts of power, nearly double the capacity of both San Onofre reactors running under full (as currently defined, meaning 100%) power. The system broke a record set on Friday, April 5, when 4,095 megawatts were generated. If the wind system were to operate under full power, it would produce 5,899 megawatts’ worth of power, though such an event is unlikely to ever occur, as it would require optimal wind conditions to simultaneously exist throughout the state.

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Comments

Founder April 9, 2013 @ 12:24 p.m.

Speaking of the great news of increased wind generation, if the CPUC stopped dragging it's Bureaucratic feet by raising the qualification "bar" a huge number of additional ratepayers would qualify for energy upgrades which would help US all use less energy!

We all have paid into an Upgrade Account that has a huge number of Millions in it which is just collecting interest because the CPUC is limiting its use, which is also great for Edison because they make more profits on everyone that is not energy efficient!...

And speaking about Energy waste, last year the CPUC paid out as much to administer their energy Upgrade Program as they spent for Energy Upgrades, which is shameful!

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Founder April 11, 2013 @ 6:19 p.m.

A Most Important Article about why Solar is such a threat to all US Utilities and especially SCE. I think of it as a Fiscal/Energy War for market share: Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business http://www.eei.org/ourissues/finance/Documents/disruptivechallenges.pdf

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