SDG&E not sweating loss of San Onofre in short term

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is not too worried about replacing the generation output from the San Onofre nuclear generating station (SONGS), at least in the short term, a utility spokesperson said in a phone interview Aug. 23.

SDG&E, a Sempra Energy (NYSE:SRE) subsidiary, is a 20% (roughly 430 MW) owner in the San Onofre Units 2 and 3. Edison International (NYSE:EIX) subsidiary Southern California Edison (SCE), the majority owner and operator of SONGS, announced in early June that it was closing the roughly 2,200-MW facility.

But the two pressurized water reactors (PWRs) located in San Clemente, Calif., had already been offline since January 2012.  As a result SDG&E had already been learning to live without the nuclear output, the SDG&E representative said.

The 2012 deployment of the much-anticipated Sunrise Powerlink transmission line has enabled SDG&E to tap the growing solar and wind energy reserves in Imperial County, the spokesperson noted.

More renewable projects are coming online, the spokesperson said, which has blunted the impact of the San Onofre retirement. The spokesperson also credited additional other transmission improvements in SDG&E’s 4,100 square-mile service area.

SDG&E currently owns natural gas plants and has several power purchase agreements, she noted.

That’s not to say the San Onofre retirement won’t have an impact, she noted. SDG&E is part of a statewide working group, which includes power companies, the California ISO and California state agencies looking at the impact of the nuclear plant retirement. A report is expected in the fall.

As for SCE, it said recently that demand response programs should go a long way toward compensating for SONGS loss in short term.

Sempra Corporate report touts CO2 free generation

Meanwhile, SDG&E is getting 20% of its electricity from renewable resources, according a “corporate responsibility report” released by parent Sempra Energy on Aug. 21. SDG&E must continue to grow its renewable use in order to continue to comply with the California renewable energy mandate.

Thankfully, the Sunrise Powerlink gives the utility a 117-mile electric transmission line to bringing renewable power into San Diego from resource-rich areas to the east, Sempra said in the report.

The report also notes that Sempra Energy business units today have a combined generation capacity of 2,443 MW of natural gas-fired generation at six power plants located in Arizona, California, Nevada and Baja California, Mexico.

“Two of our six power plants use reclaimed or treated wastewater, limiting the impact on local supplies of fresh water,” the Sempra report said.

Since 2008, Sempra U.S. Gas & Power has invested more than $2bn in eight renewable energy infrastructure projects that can produce, in aggregate, nearly 1,400 MW of clean energy. This business unit plans to continue developing renewable energy and has set a goal to be invested in 1,850 MW of renewable energy projects by 2017.

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.