Southern California Edison (SCE) today announced the permanent shutdown of Units 2 and 3 of its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). The two reactor facility, located on the ocean’s edge between Los Angeles and San Diego, has not produced any electricity for over a year. In early January 2012, Unit 2 was taken down for maintenance. Unit 3 was taken down later that month after a small radioactive leak occurred and was traced to improperly designed steam generator tubing. Both units were manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI).
Although SCE had been working through the regulatory process to bring the units back into operation, it decided the future delays were too long and not cost effective. The loss of potential power from SONGS means that other sources of electricity must be tapped to satisfy California’s enormous need for electricity. This could mean increased reliance on solar, wind, and other alternative energy sources, many of which have been operating in, or are planned for, the Bakersfield and Kern County areas.
“SONGS has served this region for over 40 years,” said Ted Craver, Chairman and CEO of Edison International, parent company of SCE, “but we have concluded that the continuing uncertainty about when or if SONGS might return to service was not good for our customers, our investors, or the need to plan for our region’s long-term electricity needs.”
“Looking ahead,” said Ron Litzinger, SCE’s President, “we think that our decision to retire the units will eliminate uncertainty and facilitate orderly planning for California’s energy future.”
In response to SCE’s announcement, the California Energy Commission released the following statement:
“The California Energy Commission has been working with the Governor’s Office, the California ISO, and the California Public Utilities Commission to plan for this contingency so we would be able to maintain reliable power in Southern California while minimizing economic and environmental costs. The Energy Commission’s top priority will be working with our sister agencies on developing and implementing this action plan,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller.
California’s Governor Jerry Brown also commented today with this statement:
“Since San Onofre nuclear power plant went offline last year, energy utilities and the state have worked to provide Southern California with reliable electric power year round. At my direction, California’s top energy experts will continue developing a long-term plan that ensures there is reliability for decades to come. As we move into the hot summer months, we can all do our part by continuing to conserve.”