Utility officials in Southern California say conservation is more important than ever as the San Onofre nuclear plant sits dormant, but anti-nuclear activists are insisting that the plant’s energy isn’t needed.
The state's electricity explodes in demand when summer heat has most Californians racing to crank up the A/C. And that's where the San Onofre nuclear plant’s output comes in to meet that need... most summers.
This year, continued problems with steam tubes have kept the plant offline for five months and will continue to keep it down until at least the end of August.
State energy and utility officials say they’ll issue Flex-Alerts when needed this summer. The messages will urge us to cut back on electricity use when it’s pushing the available supply.
Meanwhile, anti-nuclear activists say the summer will show the region can get by without San Onofre.
Gene Stone, with a San Clemente-based anti-nuclear group, says conservation can meet energy demand even with a permanent shutdown of the plant. He says Edison should use the "half-billion dollars" it's collected from customers for energy conservation to create a useful substitute.
“That money should be divided up between the appropriate county and city agencies and do some real effective conservation," said Stone.
The agency which manages the state’s power grid says that, even without the nuclear plant’s energy (enough for 1.4 million homes), Southern California will get by this summer without major blackouts.
Southern California Edison has said it will submit a plan to re-start one of the plants reactors to federal officials next month. They say, so far, there are no similar plans for the other reactor.