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NEI on the San Onofre Shutdown

Earlier today, NEI's Steve Kerekes spoke to the Washington Post concerning the announcement today by Southern California Edison that they intended to close the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station:
“This is a situation that is unique to Southern California Edison and the replacement of steam generators at the San Onofre reactors,” said Steve Kerekes, a spokesman for the NEI, who added that the closures were “a blow to California’s energy diversity.” 
He said that “this situation underscores the need for an efficient and effective regulatory process that results in timely decisions on the operation of these critical energy resources.” He said that independent firms had endorsed plans to restart San Onofre’s Unit 2 and that “it’s simply intolerable to delay decisions that impact millions of customers and the company’s obligation to provide electricity to those customers.”
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donb said…
Not to worry. Most power consumers in southern California are following in the footsteps of the residents of Long Island after the closure of the Shoreham plant (with the effects continuing to this day). The evil power companies and SONGS will get the blame for high power rates, and the pseudo-environmentalists will come out smelling like a rose. After all, electric power is a natural force having nothing to do with anyone's actions, and just flows out of wall sockets on demand.
Anonymous said…
I don't know, Steve, you may be right, but as an outsider looking in, it sure sounds a lot like whistling past the graveyard. I mean, this is the third plant we've lost in the past year or so (four reactors total) that is attributed to "unique" situations. Kewaunee went down because of a "unique situation". Crystal River went down because of "unique circumstances". Now SONGS is going down the tubes, and that is "unique" to SCE. How many "uniques" does it take to make a trend? These things are dropping like flies. For every new plant we are building, we're losing at least one older one to "unique" circumstances. I don't think that is an indicator of a healthy industry, no matter how we spin it.
jimwg said…
re: "I don't think that is an indicator of a healthy industry, no matter how we spin it."

The damnest thing about it is that the total effect and bad persception of nukes being safe and reliable can be remedied by AGGRESSIVE adult nuclear PSA and AD education IF the power companies and nuclear community REALLY wanted to do it yesterday. Again the Tylenol incident is a renoun textbook example that image turnarounds are possible. I'm not exaggerating to say that your mentions, capped with SONGS' closing, just put all the good and and nobel efforts of "Pandora's Promise" in the media garbage can. Damn needless shame!

James Greenidge
Queens NY
SteveK9 said…
They could have turned on Unit 1 at 70% as requested tomorrow. There is every reason to believe that this would work. If it didn't the detection of microscopic amounts of radiation leakage would have been detected and the plant could be shut down again.

They gave up, because they see years of pointless discussion ahead.
Anonymous said…
I'm sure that political pressure and public opinion are the most compelling reasons behind this. Even if they could have gottten the NRC to buy off the people of southern California didn't want this plant and would have fought it at every turn. Given the very negative view of nuclear in California I would not be surprised if most people in the surrounding area believed that closing this plant would cause a reduction in their electricity bills instead of an increase. I'm sure the utility will be accused of trying to screw over their customers when they raise rates to pay for this even though any fool should see it comming.

As for the poster who talked about the trend of so many plants being shut down over "unique" issues, I think that part of this is bad luck, but also part is a trend that will continue. Most of the nuclear plants in the country are getting old and just like a car, they lose value over time. If a serious situation arises it often doesn't make sense to go through all the hassle and money of dealing with the NRC and making any fixes because the plant itself is no longer worth that much. It's just like how you probably wouldn't pay $10,000 to repair a ten year old car. This trend of plants shutting down will continue because every year the value of the plants goes down and the cost of replacing any issue goes up. It's just basic economics and has nothing to do with nuclear in particular. The utility I work for has ~25 old coal units right now and any time there is a serious issue on one they simply retire it instead of fixing it because they will never pass current enviromental laws and will likely be shut down in a few years anyways.
Anonymous said…
I don't know about the getting old=lost value bromide. I have a '66 Mustang that I have kept in good repair and the last I checked it was worth almost 20 times what I paid for it. But I am not going to sell it (right now) because I like it and it gives me pleasure to drive (now and then). "Old" is a relative term. Did you know that when the current generation of nuclear plants was designed there was no definite lifetime assumed for them? The proverbial "40-year design life" is an artifact of the financing model used at the time. The time required to retire the debt on the construction bonds was assumed to be 40 years, based on the experience at the time, which was all a result of building coal-fueled power plants earlier in the century. Technically, based on what we've seen so far in embrittlement of the RPV steel, there is no reason to think these things can't run anwhere from 60-80 years, depending on steps taken to reduce fast neutron leakage from the core.
Anonymous said…
An antique car is hardly a comparable example of asset depreciation. When a nuclear plant is 60 years old it is a billion dollar radioactive liability, not an asset that has appreciated 20 times over.
Anonymous said…
"An antique car is hardly a comparable example of asset depreciation. When a nuclear plant is 60 years old it is a billion dollar radioactive liability, not an asset that has appreciated 20 times over."

That's true. A nuke plant is a billion dollar liability one year after it's built, and a billion dollar liability 60 years after it's built. But it could be generating a billion dollars per year revenue during those years.
Anonymous said…
"An antique car is hardly a comparable example of asset depreciation. When a nuclear plant is 60 years old it is a billion dollar radioactive liability, not an asset that has appreciated 20 times over." Yes, but like that antique car, it's paid for and it performs the function it was designed for. The longer you can keep it running, the better your return on your investment.
I, too, have a 1966 vehicle. Perhaps there's something about nuke workers and old cars? :-)
anon2 said…
The entire analogy with old cars is bad and misleading. "you probably wouldn't pay $10,000 to repair a ten year old car" -- well, unless you were the mechanic who kept it running for those ten years, and had all of the necessary tools and knowledge, etc. Remember, the utility companies running the plants are in the business of maintaining and operating power plants. It is what they do. An old, fully paid for plant is a gold mine to them. And as for the decommissioning costs, the NRC requires the plant owners to put money aside for that as the plant operates, so it is there when needed.
Anonymous said…
It is just a counter to the old=worthless bromide. I've seen that old saw used a lot in discussions related to keeping nuclear plants running past their so-called "40-year design life" (which it really isn't). Just because something is 40 years old does not mean that it is worthless, and doesn't have any value. Ask the US Air Force about that. They are flying planes today that are older than 40 years. Because they can perform their mssion, and they have value beyond scrapping them. Same with a well-mainatined, paid-for power plant that can still safely and efficiently perform it's function.
jimwg said…
This is an interesting topic on its own; who owns the world's record for the longest operating nuclear plant, civilian or military? Anyone out there pushing the theoretical max life expectancy anywhere? Like a hydro-dam, is it possible to build nukes that keep going and going and...?

James Greenidge
Queens NY

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