Environment & Science

Calif grid plans for summer 2013 without San Onofre nuclear plant

The operator of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is expected to submit plans to restart one of the plant's two damaged reactors early next month.

But the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it will take months to consider those plans, which means California could be without electrical power from San Onofre well into next year.

If that happens, the California Independent System Operator Corporation, the state's power grid operator, is taking steps to prepare for the summer of 2013. In a news release, Cal-ISO says options for power include continued operation of a gas-fired power plant in Huntington Beach that was brought back online to provide another source of energy after the San Onofre shutdown.

The San Onofre nuclear facility, which sits on the seaside border of Orange and San Diego counties, has been offline since a leak released radioactive steam leak into the atmosphere in January. Inspections found unusual wear with tubes that carry radioactive water in the plant’s two reactor units.

In November, the San Onofre plant will have been out of service for nine months. At that point, California law requires the state Public Utilities Commission to investigate whether Southern California Edison should to lower its rates.

The investigation could result in refunds to customers so they won't have to pay the cost of operating a power plant that produces no power.

Anti-nuclear activists say ratepayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for repairs to the San Onofre plant. They want the nuclear plant shut down permanently.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting on Oct. 9 to discuss the status of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The two-part meeting will start at 6:00 p.m. at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Hotel in Dana Point.