The California Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee held the first in a series of hearings yesterday focused on the challenges facing California with the permanent closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima) chairs the committee.
Attendees included representatives of Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, the California Independent System Operator, the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission.
“The closure of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station poses real challenges for California. We must replace more than 2,000 megawatts of energy and ensure that a reliable supply of energy continually reaches San Diego County and south Orange County which have few transmission lines connecting them to the rest of the electrical grid. We must do all this while meeting our greenhouse gas reduction goals and commitments to renewable energy,” said Senator Padilla after the hearing. “We must also be mindful of the many employees who may be displaced by the closure,” Padilla added.
“Yesterday’s public hearing took a hard look at how California’s energy regulators, grid operators and utility companies plan to address these challenges. While we have a solid plan in place for this summer, we need to develop long-term strategies for replacing the lost power and decommissioning the plant,” Padilla said.
The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) which consisted of three nuclear reactors began operating in 1968. In 1992, the Unit 1 reactor was decommissioned while Unit 2 and Unit 3 reactors continued to provide greenhouse-gas-free power to 1.4 million homes in Southern California. During a planned refueling outage in January 2012, inspections of the Unit 2 reactor found unexpected deterioration of steam generator tubes. Soon after, steam generator tubes in the Unit 3 reactor failed, venting a small amount of radioactive steam. Since these discoveries, both reactors have been offline. On June 7th, Southern California Edison announced the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).