California, NRC talk nuclear issues after San Onofre retirement

The recent decision by Edison International (NYSE: EIX) subsidiary Southern California Edison (SCE) to permanently retire the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) is hardly the end of nuclear policy debate in California.

In addition to the to-be-decommissioned SONGS plant, the state continues to be home to PG&E (NYSE:PCG)’s 2,200-MW-plus Diablo Canyon nuclear plant. The state is also home to a large anti-nuclear community and has state policy that effectively bans development of any new nuclear plants until the U.S. Department of Energy takes control of spent fuel from commercial reactors.

Two members of the California Energy Commission will hold a nuclear power workshop June 19 in Sacramento to look at the various issues with nuclear in the state. Some members of the California Public Utilities Commission might also take part.

The CEC briefing is in preparation for the state’s 2013 Integrated Energy Policy Report (IEPR) and could include much discussion of San Onofre and post-Fukushima nuclear safety issues in seismic areas.

Both of the state’s nuclear power utilities are scheduled to give presentations during the day-long workshop. An attorney for the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility is expected to discuss market factors working against aging nuclear plants.

One of the briefings scheduled is an update on steps taken by the NRC since Fukushima to ensure U.S. plants are better prepared to cope with earthquakes and other severe accident scenarios.

California is known for its earthquakes and additional seismic risk evaluations are in the works, according to filings made by NRC.

In light of the recent decision to permanently cease operation of SONGS Units 2 and 3, the NRC will discuss with the licensee the need for completing actions related to lessons learned from the Fukushima accident, according to one of the NRC filings prior to the workshop.

The California Legislature has commissioned a number of earthquake risk reports over the years concerning both San Onofre and Diablo Canyon.

CPUC has convened its own Independent Peer Review Panel (IPRP). The IPRP is conducting an independent review of PG&E’s on-shore and off-shore seismic studies including independently reviewing and commenting on PG&E’s study plans and findings.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.