Decision to restart San Onofre reactors to be biggest decision of CEO’s tenure

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Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison, the parent company of plant operator Southern California Edison, said as the process stands, the earliest that the Unit 2 reactor could restart would be the end of summer, and Unit 3 may take longer. Most of the troubling wear was found in Unit 3.

To date, 1,317 tubes in the plant’s two working reactor units have been taken out of service, 510 in Unit 2 and 807 in Unit 3. About one-third of those were plugged because of excessive wear and the others as a preventive measure, Craver said.

In addition to conservation incentives, state regulators approved using $9 million in customer funds for public service advertisements and announcements that encourage energy conservation during peak periods.  Meanwhile, the cost of the shutdown and any necessary repairs continues to mount—and it’s unclear who will end up paying the bill.

The new costs will easily exceed $100 million—and would be substantially higher if they included ongoing work on the steam generators as well as a prolonged period with reduced or zero power generation.

The quest for a solution is complicated by the fact that several aspects of the new generators are unique to the worldwide nuclear industry.   Edison officials believe that the most concerning wear is happening because the rate of steam flow among the tubes is causing excessive vibration, leading the tubes to rub against each other.

NRC Investigators are still trying to determine whether the unusual wear was caused by the way the steam generators were designed, the way they were manufactured, the way they were installed, or the way they were operated.

“I don’t see how we could submit [a restart plan] to the NRC before the end of July, and their process is maybe another month, so that’s the end of August,” Craver said.

He said the call on when it is safe to restart the plant will be a “huge decision” adding, “I’m not sure there’s going to be a bigger decision I make in my time as CEO here,” he said.

Craver said the steam generators, installed to replace the old, aging equipment, were designed to prevent such vibration but “the implementation of the design doesn’t appear to be meeting the specification.”

Utilities pass the cost of power purchases on to customers through an annual filing. The California Public Utilities Commission reviews the purchases for “reasonableness,” but the charges are rarely debated.

“At some point, the replacement power costs end up being so large that the CPUC has to say, ‘wait a minute,’” said Geesman, the former member of the California Energy Commission.

Source: LA Times

Source: Inside Climate News

Source: U-T San Diego

Source: NRC Event Notifications

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