California PUC Orders Two Utilities To Replace San Onofre Plant Output
To replace 2150 megawatts of generation lost by the retirement of a nuclear powerplant, the California Public Utilities Commission has directed two utility companies to procure up to 1,500 MW of new resources. At least 600 MW must be from energy storage and “preferred resources,” which the state defines as renewable power, demand response sources and energy efficiency.
Southern California Edison Co. (SCE), Rosemead, must procure 500-700 MW and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) 500-800 MW by 2022 to meet local capacity needs following the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). SCE also must procure at least 50 MW and SDG&E 25 MW from energy storage.
SONGS Units 2 and 3, both pressurized-water reactors generating 1070 and 1080 MW net, respectively, were shut down in January 2012 when premature wear was discovered in more than 3,000 tubes in replacement Mitsubishi steam generators that had recently been installed. In June 2013, SCE, the principal owner and operator with a 78.2% stake, announced that SONGS would be permanently retired. Unit 1 was closed in 1992 and dismantled.
SCE was anticipating the CPUC order and plans to add the required replacement capacity to the 1400-1800 MW solicited in September under Track 1 of its long-term procurement plan, says Mark Nelson, director integrated planning and strategy. The utility received more offers for Track 1 than it solicited, so it may just add some contracts from those offers to the negotiations already in progress to procure 1,800-2,500 MW total. Negotiations will continue until June and SCE will seek CPUC approval in August. Besides adding new generation, SCE will upgrade a 220-kilovolt substation in the Los Angeles Basin to 500 kV and loop it into an existing transmission line. The solicitation calls for replacement power to be online between 2015 and 2020.
SDG&E owns 20% of SONGS and feels the retirement decision is a responsible one, says Jennifer Ramp, spokeswoman. Of the utility’s replacement capacity obligation, 200 MW must be preferred resources.