I watched the Irvine City Council meeting on Channel 30 last night, which featured the reports of the Cal ISO and SC Edison on plans for summer electricity, should San Onofre reactors not be available. One additional complication was noting that when there are fires, they may shut down power lines that could be affected. (Since this was a relatively dry year, we may expect a fair amount of fires this summer, although crews are becoming adept at shutting them down quickly before they spread.) The stages of power concern are: Stage 1, 6-7% reserve power; Stage 2, <5% reserve; and Stage 3, <3% reserve. The most power usage is from 2 to 6 PM, and they expect 15-20 days of high heat and air conditioning.
Dennis Peters spoke for Cal ISO (CaISO), which supplies power to 80% of CA consumers, which is a non-profit that provides transmission planning, and is regulated by the FERC. Unfortunately, the slideshow was not posted on the Irvine City Council Agenda, so I have to rely on notes. The plans include the June restart of Huntington Beach natural gas generators 3 and 4, supplying 452 megaWatts. This is about 21% of the power of San Onofre. The Sunrise transmission line was going to be completed to the East, to bring power to San Diego, and I have the figure 340 megaWatts to San Diego in my notes. There is also mention of a Barre-Ellis transmission upgrade. There is a Del Amo – Ellis loop-in Project to connect North to South Orange County.
On the energy conservation side, SC Edison will fully fund FLEX alerts to conserve during 4-6 PM, and the alerts will be broadcast on radio and TV. They did not fully explain the so-called Demand Response programs, which are for businesses, but they can save 86 megaWatts when needed. There is a 10 for 10 program to save 10% of power for a 10% savings, which can save 10 megaWatts. Mention was also made of those who save power at critical peak will be reimbursed at 75 cents per kiloWatt hour, which is amazing considering the base rate is 13 cents per kiloWatt hour. It must be that running peaker plants is really expensive. Percentage wise, these power savings programs look very small.
However, the estimated excess of power available over demand looked tiny. I guess this means that any additional breakdowns or transmission problems are going to lead to 4-6 PM rotating hour long blackouts. Fortunately, peak power is at 4-6 PM, when it is still light, so people will not have to resort to candles or Coleman lanterns, which can be dangerous.
On the San Onofre start-up question, there was a definite statement that a date had not been set, and that they would not do so without NRC approval (how could they, anyway). The number of generator tubes that would be removed from service would be 510 for reactor 2, and some 800 from reactor 3, for a total of around 1300. One council member implied that these all were damaged, but there was not a SONGS representative there to say if they were removed just because they were the ones at risk for damage. To the speculation that they may run at lower power, one council member said if they could not run at full power, it must be unsafe. (Does this person only drive his car at the maximum speed.) Again, no representative from SONGS to discuss this.
What was totally missed were any questions of the extra cost of all of this backup power and its sources. There were also no gasps at the narrowness of the excess projected.