Navy Prepares for Calif. Electricity Shortage in Case of Summer Heat, Extended SONGS Outage

With worn steam generator tubes keeping both San Onofre reactors offline, and with state regulators raising the possibility of summer blackouts, the Navy is working on an agreement to cut back on its power usage in exchange for lower electric rates.

Over the weekend, California media described the negotiations between plant minority owner San Diego Gas and Electric and its biggest customer. The Navy operates several air station and other facilities in San Diego County. The proposed agreement to reduce their power consumption in the event of a supply shortage mirrors similar agreements with other large industrial customers.

Southern California Edison operates two roughly 1,070 megawatt Combustion Engineering pressurized water reactors at San Onofre between Los Angeles and San Diego, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Both have been kept out of service for months after excessive wear was discovered in some tubes of steam generators replaced in 2009 and 2011. The utility and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have been testing the steam generators but have not announced a date when the units are expected to return to service.

Without them, state power regulators have warned recently that excessive summer heat or a shock to the transmission system could force rolling blackouts in the coming months.

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