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San Onofre reactors down indefinitely, power shortages possible this summer

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Like the forthcoming tans of a rapidly approaching summer, hopes are fading that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will be functional by the time peak summer usage rears its sweaty head.

With San Onofre's nuclear reactors offline indefinitely -- Unit 3 was shut down following January's radioactive leak and Unit 2 is offline for maintenance -- local agencies are scrambling to strategize a way of handling the upcoming summer demand to avoid shortages or blackouts.

Preliminary plans were discussed Thursday at a meeting to address the power supply issue.

State regulators may need to bring in electric generators via barges, or un-retire closed power plants to make up for lost electricity. Officials at the California Independent System Operator meeting said an extended heatwave or surge in usage may still cause outages.

Southern California Edison serves nearly 14 million Central and Southern California residents with electricity. 19-percent of all power used by SCE customers reportedly comes from nuclear generation.

Investigators are currently trying to determine why tubes carrying hot, pressurized, radioactive water inside the relatively new steam generators at San Onofre, are deteriorating at a dangerous and unusual rate. A team of federal investigators was dispatched to the San Diego-area plant earlier this month.