San Onofre gets nuked

San Onofre, cagle, Wolverton, June 10, 2013June 14, 2013

By Joseph Perkins

“VICTORY!” So reads the giddy headline on the Friends of the Earth website.

The anti-nuke environmental group is celebrating the surrender of Southern California Edison, which announced last week it will permanently shutter its San Onofre Nuclear Plant.

“This is very good news for the people of Southern California,” said Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica, in a statement.

So Cal Ed’s customers “now have the opportunity,” he said, “to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with safe and clean energy provided by the sun and the wind.”

Of course, Pica neglected to mention how much it will cost So Cal Ed customers to replace San Onofre’s 2200 megawatts — which accounted for nearly 20 percent of the utility’s total electricity production — with solar arrays and wind farms.

First, there’s the actual cost of decommissioning San Onofre, which will amount to roughly $3.4 billion, according to Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison International, So Cal Ed’s parent company.

The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates electricity rates, will determine how much So Cal Ed ratepayers will be forced to pay for San Onofre’s permanent shut down.

Sempra Energy, which owns 20 percent of the nuclear plant, is counting on the CPUC to allow it to recoup its $519 million stake in San Onofre by passing along the cost to its customers.

By the same coin, So Cal Ed customers can be expected to absorb a couple billion dollars or so in higher electricity rates to defray the cost of decommissioning San Onofre.

Then there are Edison International shareholders, including the California Public Employees Retirement System. They will absorb after-tax costs of up to $425 million, according to Jim Scilacci, Edison’s chief financial officer, although, he warned, further write downs are possible. Because CalPERS payouts to retirees are guaranteed by the California Constitution, at least according to most interpretations, that means all California taxpayers could be on the hook for any investment losses.

And not to be forgotten are the 1,100 San Onofre employees who suddenly find themselves jobless with the plant’s shutdown. Pica, the Friends of the Earth president, doesn’t feel their pain. That’s because he lives and works all the way in Washington, D.C., where he doesn’t see the human toll of his anti-nuke advocacy in Southern California.


Indeed, aside from the direct cost of decommissioning San Onofre, there also is the cost of replacing the atoms the nuclear plant generated “with energy provided by the sun and wind,” as suggested by Pica and Friends.

Indeed, as So Cal Ed has previously estimated, it would take 64,000 acres of solar panels — 100 square miles’ worth — to replace the electricity San Onofre generated on its 84-acre site in San Clemente. It would take 59,000 acres of wind turbines.

And even if such a vast amount of land could be assembled by a company planning to sell “safe and clean” solar or wind, it would face the same kind of reflexive opposition from environmental activist groups that San Onofre faced.

Just last year, for instance, the North Sky River Wind project, a 100-turbine, 12,781-acre wind farm in Kern County, was hit with a lawsuit from the Center from Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, and Defenders of Wildlife. The groups sought to block the 297-megawatt project because it posed an “unacceptable risk” to Kern’s bird population.

Similarly, Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club and the National Resources Defense Council filed suit last year against Calico Solar, which proposed to build a solar farm on 4,600 acres in the Mohave Desert. The enviros claimed the 663 megawatt project would endanger tortoises, lizards and other desert-dwelling critters.

Had Pica spoken up for North Sky River Wind, Calico Solar and other such wind and solar projects, his claim that the permanent removal of San Onofre’s 2,200 megawatts is “very good news” for the people of Southern California could be taken seriously.

That he has remained silent while other environmentalists attacked wind and solar projects suggests that Friends of the Earth is less concerned with promoting “green” energy than it is with killing nuclear energy.


Write a comment
  1. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 14 June, 2013, 12:27

    The low-information blobs of protoplasm that inhabit Southern California do not yet realize it, of course, but…….in the long term – we are effed.

    It’s hard to imagine that our electricity rates – among the nation’s highest – will soar even further, but they certainly will.

    And the examples of Calico Solar and the Kern County wind farm perfectly illustrate the enormous hypocrisy of the Left.

    Reply this comment
  2. Paul
    Paul 14 June, 2013, 14:02

    Jimmy your right on the money and said it right! A bunch of leftist commie fools and dummies… There is no such thing as “GREEN ENERGY” it all has a foot print…

    Reply this comment
  3. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 14 June, 2013, 14:40

    Edison already has $2.7 billion in a decommissioning trust fund and estimates it will cost $3 billion total to mothball San Onofre.

    See here:

    With the spread of high tech cruise missiles a nuke plant on the coast may no longer be viable for defense purposes. That might explain the post Japan nuke plant disaster mystery of why California shut down all its nuke plants for a brief period.

    But I would replace San Onofre with mini-nuke plants that would provide the long sought holy grail of distributed generation. Each mini nuke power plant could produce enough power for 45,000 homes. They have already been field tested in remote locations and are ultra safe. Watch for Indian Tribes to get permits to start putting them on their reservations possibly some time in the future. Or possibly some U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, etc.) will start installing them. Once proven the technology would spread. Hyperion’s mini nuke plant technology has a target price of 8 cents per kilowatt hour which would be totally clean and cheap and safe power.

    Reply this comment
  4. The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm)
    The Modified Ted Steele Methodologies (tm) 14 June, 2013, 17:37

    A huge victory– and thanks also to the notoriously commie leaning oc register for GREAT reporting!

    You doomers slay me— the plant leaked radiation MANY times, discharged radiation and was a constant and huge safety violator over and over again…..the tech was old and the plant was on line longer than the original permit called for—- The French and German studies re plants such as SONGS and that era showed increased pediatric cancer for a 3 mile radius around the plants.

    Get real.

    Reply this comment
  5. Queeg
    Queeg 16 June, 2013, 21:18

    How many local fish were caught and consumed?

    Never should have been built…..

    Reply this comment

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