SONGS Outage Costs Top $402 Million, Edison Looks for Summer Restart

A recent earnings report offered an updated tally of the costs at Southern California Edison's San Onofre nuclear plant, where two reactors have spent a year offline because of steam generator problems.

According to a presentation by Edison International, at the end of last year it had incurred $102 million in inspection and repair costs and $300 million in net market costs resulting from the outage. Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited may pay for a portion of the replacement power, and proofs of loss have been submitted. Additionally, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries provided the steam generators with a 20-year warranty. Edison has billed $106 million against that warranty. It has also notified MHI that it believes a $138 million liability cap in the warranty does not apply. MHI has indicated it disagrees, and the dispute may end up in international arbitration.

In remarks prepared for a call with analysts, Edison International CEO Theodore F. Craver said the company is shooting for a restart of one of the units before the high-demand summer season, but the utility is making preparations in the event that does not happen.

During the conference call, SCE President Ronald L. Litzinger said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to make a decision on the restart in late April or May, although a separate contention by an environmental group before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board may affect the schedule.

Regulators are currently debating a plan to restart unit 2 at 70 percent power and run it under enhanced monitoring for five months. Unit 3 would remain offline.

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