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Amid continued debate over the wisdom and appropriate time line for resuming power generating activities at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, now shuttered for over 6 months, plant operator Southern California Edison has set tentative “return to service” dates late this year for both reactors.

According to information reported by the Associated Press, San Onofre’s Unit 2 reactor could be restarted by November 18, while Unit 3, which was sent into emergency shutdown after radiation began leaking from burst tubes in a steam generator, has a potential restart date of December 31.

Edison spokesperson Jennifer Manfre reiterated an often voiced statement that the newest restart dates are not set in stone, and that no formal request for permission to resume operations has been sent to the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has ultimate control over whether or not to allow the plant to attempt to generate power. Edison officials have backed off numerous restart dates in the past, and last April an Edison official predicted that there was a “greater than 50 percent chance” that one or both reactors would have been online again by summer.

While the restart date remains up in the air, John Geesman, counsel for the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, has petitioned Dr. Robert B. Weisenmiller, chairman of the California Energy Commission, to carefully consider the findings of the official investigation into the causes of generator failure at San Onofre.

“This start-it-up-and-let’s-see approach might be suitable for dealing with a damaged tractor in an empty pasture, but it is inappropriately primitive when applied to critical components of nuclear generation of electricity in one of the world’s most developed population centers,” Geesman writes. “You and Governor Brown should demand that further [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] review of the [San Onofre] steam generators be robustly transparent and empirically driven.”

Meanwhile, Adam Townsend at Poway Patch reports that costs related to the San Onofre shutdown including inspections, repairs, and loss of income from electricity generation have already topped $165 million. Edison has a warranty from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, manufacturers of the faulty generators, though that is expected to cover only a fraction of the eventual cost of the generators’ failure.

Edison reported earnings yesterday, saying that its second-quarter core earnings totaled 32 cents per share, down from 56 cents a year ago.

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tomjohnston Aug. 1, 2012 @ 9:27 a.m.

According to Edison, they have spent $48 million thus far on repairs and inspections and it has cost approximately $117 million to generate power to replace what San Onofre would have provided, as well as to replace power capacity. Part of that capacity is temporary. Two retired gas-fired units in Huntington Beach that were brought back back on line for this summer will not be available next summer as Edison is required to shut down and permanently retire them at the end of October. Edison also estimates another $25 million is expected to be spent before Unit 2 can be restarted, should approval ever be given. And, of course, expenses for replacing power lost will be ongoing as 19% of Edison's power was generated by San Onofre, enough to power 1.4 million homes.


Visduh Aug. 1, 2012 @ 6:14 p.m.

Well reported. Where do we go from here?


tomjohnston Aug. 1, 2012 @ 7:01 p.m.

Don't know. So far, no heat waves or "mysterious outages". A few weeks ago, one of the SCE VP's said she believed that they would make it thru the summer ok, as long as there wasn't an extended heat wave. What happens if the high pressure system sitting over Texas decides to migrate a few hundred miles to the west, or if a wildfire knocks out a major transmission line? I doesn't even have to occur here in Southern Ca. Remember the rolling blackouts in 2005? That was from a supplier who had a line go down in Oregon that dropped almost 3k megawatts from the system. A similar situation could be pretty bad this time around. I think the question is how do we replace the 2200 mega watts on a permanent basis. That 19% of SCE's power also accounts for over 10% of the regions power. Sooner or later, the cost of importing electricity is going to be passed along to the consumer.


Visduh Aug. 1, 2012 @ 10:33 p.m.

Every comment that comes out of SCE is a bit different from the prior one. They are supremely confident one time, then reticent, then they waffle a bit. What is their plan? I'd have to guess they really have no plan at all, and are more confused in some ways than the public they are charged with serving. That explains the confusing series of announcements and the weird way they use the language in making them.


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