California May Face Summer Power Shortages Due To San Onofre

With San Onofre nuclear plant still down due to steam generator problems, the power supply in California is struggling to keep up. CAISO is predicting about 46,352 MW during summer 2012 will be available. The actual peak of 2011 was 45,429 MW. This leaves a very tight power supply. California plans to do a couple of things to lower demand:

 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.

San Onofre has 2,250 MW total capacity they can send to the grid. The problem with steam generators at San Onofre is now without a time projection or a fix. The restart of two gas turbines at Huntington Beach will add 452 MW back in to the grid. They do not resolve the capacity gap created by San Onofre being down. The NRC is now giving no time table for restarting San Onofre. A plan to mitigate tube wear in the new steam generator units has been scrapped. So there is currently no announced play to resolve the problem at the nuclear plant.

Complicating things further is the upcoming requirement to change the cooling systems on both of California’s nuclear plants and a number of non-nuclear power stations.  This would not impact power capacity this year but San Onofre will be considering applying for re-licensing soon. The need to install additional cooling could impact the decision to continue to run the nuclear plant. Diablo Canyon also had a recent outage due to jellyfish blocking the water intakes. It looks like California may have a summer of very tight energy supply.
Many thanks to Ron D who did extensive research on this issue.

Further reading:
http://www.caiso.com/Documents/SummerGridOutlookComplicated-PossibleExtendedOutage-NuclearPowerPlant.pdf

http://www.caiso.com/Documents/BriefingSummer2012OperationsPreparedness-Presentation-Mar2012.pdf

http://www.caiso.com/Documents/Briefing_SummerLoads_ResourcesOperationsPreparednessAssessment-Memo-MAR2012.pdf

http://www.caiso.com/Documents/Briefing_SummerLoads_ResourcesOperationsPreparednessAssessment-Memo-MAR2012.pdf

 

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