California's San Onofre nuke plant won't be revived

With Edison International permanently closing the facility, the issue of aging reactors in the US is becoming inescapable.

By Bruce Kennedy Jun 10, 2013 9:35AM

A fisherman stands beside the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant in San Diego, Calif., on March 15, 2011 (© Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)One of California's largest power facilities is closing for good -- and that closure raises new questions about America's aging nuclear power industry.


Last Friday, Southern California Edision (SCEDN), an Edison International (EIX) company, announced it was permanently retiring its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.


The Los Angeles Times reports the decision came 17 months after the plant was shut due to problems with it steam generating system. Until that closure, San Onofre powered about 1.4 million households in Southern California. SCE spent $500 million on replacement power after the outage.


"We have concluded that the continuing uncertainty about when or if (the plant) 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," Ted Craver, Edison International's chairman and CEO told the newspaper.


Opponents of nuclear power praised the news, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said she was "relieved."


"This nuclear plant had a defective redesign and could no longer operate as intended," Boxer said in a statement. "Modifications to the San Onofre nuclear plant were unsafe and posed a danger to the 8 million people living within 50 miles of the plant."


San Onofre supplied about 4% of California's power. It was one of two nuclear plants in the state, with the other one being Pacific Gas and Electric's (PCG) Diablo Canyon facility.


The U.S. currently has 104 nuclear reactors in 31 U.S. states operated by 32 companies, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry representative. Those reactors also generate 19% of America's electricity. But the World Nuclear Association noted that nearly all the electricity nuclear power generates in the U.S. comes from reactors built between the late 1960s and 1990. And that, until this year, "there had been no new construction starts (on nuclear reactors) since 1977."


The San Onofre plant is just the latest nuclear reactor to close. The Financial Times reports Duke Energy (DUK) says it will retire its Crystal River plant in Florida, which has also been shut down for repairs, while Dominion Resources (D) intends to turn off its Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin.


Analysts say the nuclear industry is having to contend with officials looking at alternatives to traditional power sources, as well as lower natural gas prices brought on by America's shale boom.


"Regulators are becoming more confident that investing in gas plants has lower costs and presents lower risks to customers," Travis Miller, Morningstar utilities analyst, told the FT, "than spending hundreds of millions of dollars and taking on the uncertainty that goes with repairing a nuclear plant."


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3Comments
Jun 11, 2013 11:19AM
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California is the fraud state. A total Fraud. I live there and know. they are all PC and "Green". To get around there own State air quality standards Los Angeles had MASSIVE Coal Fired POWEr Plants in Arizona, Nevada and Utah, I other words they pollute there so they can look good at a home and say what "Green" state they are. Meanwhile the Chicken littles have killed one of the best Clean energy sources in the universe, Nuclear. Three mile island was blown out of proportion and Chernobyl was a product of a corrupt, pathetic Soviet System the did give a damn about anything buy power. The didn't even build a containment vessel, one of the basics of a nuclear power plant. What ever happen to the worldwide "devastation" that Fukishima was supposed to have caused? Haven't heard a peep about that in years. Remember 2 things people. the news is all about sensationalism and liberals are unrealistic people with no ability to think critically. Its all show and emotion. It's all a fraud and they fool you into paying for it.
Jun 10, 2013 10:53AM
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California plan is to tax the "rich'" of course.

In March 2013, Lancaster California became the first U.S. city to mandate the inclusion of solar panels on new homes, requiring that "every new housing development must average 1 kilowatt per house. 1 KW LOL

In May 2013, Sebastopol followed suit, requiring new buildings include either 2 W/sq ft  of insulated building space of photovoltaics, or enough to provide 75% of the expected annual electricity use.  75% again LMFAO.

 These forced mandates aren't going to work anywhere except in upscale communities.

Heck, I used 875 KW just last month.  California Dreamin' ♫ ♬ ♪ ♩ ♪

Jun 10, 2013 4:57PM
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People think that solar is green energy hahahaha.  The sun making energy vs the ocean making energy.  Take a look at the chemicals that turn that energy from the sun into the kind of energy that you can use to charge the battery in your Prius.  Oh but hey, we will at least probably buy those panels cheap, cause we'll get 'em from China......
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