Summer grid outlook complicated by possible extended outage of San Onofre nuclear power plant

FOLSOM, Calif. – A potential extended outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) will change the summer electricity outlook for local areas in Southern California. The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) issued a summer grid forecast at the ISO Board of Governors meeting today, adding an important and urgent update to its annual 2012 Summer Loads and Resources Assessment.

The grid operator for the majority of California’s electric transmission system cautions that if both SONGS units remain offline this summer, San Diego and portions of the Los Angeles Basin may face local reliability challenges.

―Safety is the top priority during ongoing inspections and testing of the nuclear power plant,‖ said ISO President and CEO Steve Berberich. ―Our focus is contingency planning should SONGS remain offline this summer. Fortunately, there are resource options available to help mitigate reliability risks. We are actively working with San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and others because prudent mitigation planning takes adequate lead time and summer heat is only a couple months away.‖

Technical studies presented at today’s board meeting show very tight reserve margins for San Diego and the Los Angeles Basin, especially during potential summer heat waves. Industry contingency planning potentially includes:

 Calling back into service Huntington Beach Power Plant units previously slated for retirement. This not only adds 452 megawatts (MW) of capacity in the LA Basin, but it also enables 350 MW of additional imported power to transfer into San Diego.

 Accelerating completion of Barre-Ellis & Sunrise Powerlink transmission projects.

 Re-activating the 20/20 demand reduction program and Flex Alert TV and radio conservation campaign.

 Coordinating military and public agency conservation in key areas of Southern California to further soften peak demand.