Edison Officials: San Onofre Nuclear Shutdown Costs $165M

The troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station may start its Unit 2 generators several months before the more heavily damaged Unit 3 generators—though officials still won’t give out a timeline for restart.

As the shutdown of the beleaguered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station continues to cost Southern California Edison millions, officials of the parent company say they may not even re-start one of the troubled units.

Edison International CEO Ted Craver said that that shut down the plant after a were less serious in Unit 2 than in Unit 3. Technicians haven’t figured out how they would repair damage in Unit 3, but they may be able to run Unit 2 at lower levels for shorter-than-normal periods between maintenance outages.

“Unit 2 could restart months in advance of Unit 3—it would likely operate at reduced levels with mid-cycle outages,” Craver said. “Inasmuch as the damage was more severe in Unit 3, it is unclear whether they can start Unit 3 without expensive repairs. At this stage, we have all the options on the table. These are complex technical issues.”

Company officials discussed these issues in their second-quarter earnings filing with the Securities and Exchage Commission, which the company presented on a Tuesday-afternoon conference call.

According to Edison International CFO William J. Scilacci, ongoing inspections, analysis and repairs of the damaged steam generator tubes have cost the company $48 million in the first half of 2012. Lost revenue from electricity generation has cost the company $117 million so far.

Officials wouldn’t yet speculate on what the estimated cost of restarting Unit 3 because they said it was unclear what kind of repairs would be necessary.

But Scilacci said it may cost about $25 million just to get Unit 2 back online at reduced power.

On a bright note for the company, the manufacturers of the faulty steam generators—Mitsubishi Heavy Industries—has a 20-year warranty on the generators up to $137 million, more in some cases, Scilacci said.

Also, Edison has some insurance that could kick in to cover part of the losses from the outage, Scilacci said.

Meanwhile, the California Public Utilities Commission is set to decide Thursday whether it will choose to launch an investigation into whether it’s worth the cost to ratepayers to keep moving forward on repairs.

Also, if the plant hasn’t restarted by December, Edison has to notify the CPUC, which will start a whole different set of hearings and investigation, the ultimate purpose of which is the figure out whether it's worth it to restart the plant.

“I think it will be pretty straightforward about what it will take to have a viable entity,” Craver said. “If not, there are other options on the table.”

that manufacturing problems and faulty computer models at Mitsubishi led to the vibration and compromising of vital steam generators tubes, causing the January leak and subsequent shutdown.

The worn components are tubes that carry super-heated, highly pressurized radioactive steam. The thousands of tubes within the steam generator exchange heat from the radioactive water that circulates around the nuclear fuel rods and transfers it to boil pure water that makes steam. The steam turns turbines to make electricity.

For the full report that Southern California Edison submitted to the NRC, click here.

For hundreds of articles arranged by date providing a comprehensive history of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station over the past few years, visit our Patch topic page here.

Donna Gilmore August 01, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Edison redesigned the anti-vibration system, which turned out to be a bad idea. We were lucky the radiation leak wasn't more severe. All four newly replaced steam generators have unprecedented wear -- never before seen in nuclear history says the NRC. Check the facts and see if you have any confidence Edison has the management and technical skills to fix these reactors. Did you know they have no way to test the generators when they are operating? Did you know they must rely on radiation leaks to know that they're not working (per NRC Branch Chief Greg Werner)? Tell our federal and state elected officials we don't want to be a nuclear experiment. Our safety and financial future are at stake. We don't need San Onofre for energy, so why are we living with these risks? The California electric grid operator has plans to avoid blackouts this summer and is working on plans for next summer. Get the government facts at http://sanonofresafety.org/


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