Aiming to restart unit 2 at its San Onofre nuclear plant this summer, Southern California Edison has floated the idea of amending its license to operate at 70 percent power while a lengthy review of restarting at full power runs its course.

Prematurely thinning steam generator tubes have kept both reactors at the plant offline for more than a year. In that time, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has overseen an extensive review of the problems and steps required to bring the reactors back into service. Last week, SCE submitted a third-party operational assessment prepared by Intertek Aptech that determined unit 2 could run at full power for 11 months "with full tube integrity." Earlier, the same firm also concluded the plant could operate safely at 70 percent power.

In a release Friday, SCE said it has requested a meeting with the NRC to discuss the license amendment.
 
"We want to do every responsible thing we can do to get unit 2 up and running safely before the summer heat hits our region," SCE President Ron Litzinger said in the release. "While the NRC continues to review the technical materials we've submitted, we're considering a request for a license amendment so that we can pursue the best path to safe restart while avoiding unnecessary delays."

SCE has said that, even if it receives permission to operate unit 2 at full power, it plans to run the reactor at 70 percent power for five months before shutting down for further steam generator inspections.