What Will Happen If San Onofre Is Shut Down During a Heat Wave?

In case investigators don’t discover what caused unusual wear on tubes at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station before summer heat waves hit, plans are being made to handle possible energy shortages, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Southern California Edison has kept San Onofre shut down since January while investigators determine whether it was a design, manufacturing, installation, usage or some other reason that caused tubes to fail in tests.

From the Times:

Jennifer Manfre, a spokeswoman with Edison, said the company is planning for the possibility that the plant could be offline through the summer.

If that happens, it will be the first time that one of California’s two nuclear plants has been shut down for an extended period during the summer months when demand peaks, said Stephanie McCorkle, a spokeswoman with California Independent System Operator, which operates the state’s wholesale power grid.

So far, with energy demand low due to mild weather, the plant’s shutdown has had no impact on service.

In a report presented to the Independent System Operator board Thursday, staffers said that in a major heat wave or transmission line outage during the peak season, South Orange County and the San Diego and Los Angeles areas could face energy shortages without the 2,200 megawatts of power generated by San Onofre.

To prevent that, officials plan to produce more energy from other sources and convince customers to scale back on demand.