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A new paper out from the Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit think tank based in Colorado, provides a host of suggestions on how the region served by the long-idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station might adapt to the increasingly possible scenario that the plant’s twin nuclear reactors may never be brought back online.

Reinventing Fire in Southern California notes first that through the temporary reactivation of a retired plant in Huntington Beach and the completion of the Sunrise Powerlink, which allowed for increased energy import, that San Diego and neighboring communities were able to survive the summer without experiencing blackouts or other power emergencies.

One of the strategies the Institute suggests is continued “demand response” programs, such as the Flex Alerts that were successful in getting consumers to voluntarily reduce energy use during peak demand events such as heat waves. According to one local engineer, however, even during those peak periods the existing, San Onofre-free grid still had plenty of excess power to avoid a regional emergency.

The report also praises California’s energy efficiency initiatives, noting that various measures have kept the state’s per-capita energy consumption at a constant since 1978, while energy use on a per person basis has increased an average of 30 percent across the country.

More distributed, smaller sources of generation, such as personal-use solar arrays, has also seen tremendous growth in recent years. A continuation of this trend, while not having the effect of being an immediate replacement, shows promise – since 2007 enough new solar installations have been activated to exceed the generation capabilities of one of the two idled nuclear reactors, though this figure factors in all new systems throughout the state.

Another option explored is creating a way to store energy generated during off-peak times for use when demand spikes. While technology in this arena is advancing, systems such as battery banks that store power generated via systems such as solar that do not generate electricity consistently are still very expensive and widespread implementation is still years away.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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