Reactor Heads are Delivered To San Onofre Nuclear Plant

- Edited By Chris Reed -

San Onofre Nuclear Plant is in the midst of three major upgrades worth nearly $1 billion, and on Monday, two 140 ton reactor heads were delivered.

Pictures of Delivery (OC Register)

The 16-foot-wide replacement heads, at a total cost of about $200 million, seem small compared to the four 640-ton steam generators also being replaced at the plant.

Each reactor gets two generators each; the installation of the last two, in the plant's unit 3 reactor, is now being finished up. Total cost for all four: $674 million.

More large machinery, the high-pressure turbines -- which turn on steam power from the generators, which make steam from water heated by the reactors -- will be replaced in 2012 at a cost of $77 million.

When it's all finished, the nuclear plant will produce 48 more megawatts of power, enough to serve 31,000 homes.

That will be added to the plant's present 2200 megawatt capacity, serving 1.4 million customers.

While it is unknown whether the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will extend San Onofre's license past its current end in 2022, the upgrades would allow the plant to continue operating decades into the future if the license is extended.

Even if the plant stops operating in 2022, the upgrades will still represent a savings for ratepayers, Edison officials argue, if the cost of replacing the power plant with some other source of energy is considered.

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