Edison mulls permanently closing San Onofre reactors

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SAN DIEGO — The majority owner and operator of the idled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will consider permanently closing one or both reactors if proposals to restart one of its units are denied by regulators, it was reported Wednesday.

Southern California Edison made the announcement in regulatory filings and on a conference call with analysts, U-T San Diego reported. The newspaper said SCE executives blamed uncertainties about rising costs linked to a 15- month outage of the plant.

SCE pegged the price of repairs and inspections at $109 million, with replacement power costs of $444 million, according to the newspaper. A decision on retiring the reactors would come by the end of this year.

The utility has asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart Unit 2 at 70 percent power.

The reactor was undergoing scheduled maintenance in January 2012 when a small, non-injury leak was discovered from a steam pressure tube in Unit 3, which was subsequently shut down.

Neither reactor has operated since.

A decision from the NRC could come within the next month or so. The commission has promised to hold a public meeting in Southern California first, and said it would only grant approval for a restart if it would be safe.

Anti-nuclear activists and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-San Diego, have blasted the utility’s restart plans.

While SCE owns the vast majority of the plant, San Diego Gas & Electric owns 20 percent and receives one-fifth of its power. SDG&E did not immediately comment on the report.

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