Southern California Edison now expects the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to decide in late April or May whether or not the 2,300-MW San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) Units 2 and 3 may restart in time for this summer’s demand season.

Ronald L. Litzinger, president of Southern California Edison Co., told analysts during a Feb. 26 earnings conference call that if the unit does not return to service this summer, the utility will speed up transmission upgrades to boost flows into south Orange County. The utility also would place “a big focus on demand response as well, which we were successful with last year,” Litzinger said.

Unit 2, which has a nameplate capacity of 1,178 MW, has been offline since January 2012 when cracks in steam generator tubes were discovered. Unit 3, rated at 1,172 MW, also has been shut since the damage was discovered during a maintenance outage. The utility and its steam generator equipment supplier, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, have been working to pinpoint the origin of the cracks, and bring the units back into service.

Litzinger said the 450-MW Huntington Beach generating station, which was available last summer, will not be available as a generator this summer.

The executive also said the utility is continuing to answer questions from federal regulators. “The latest indications from the NRC are that they expect a late April, May time frame to make a decision. The wildcard remains the hearing with the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board on the Friends of the Earth petition.” The group contends that the utility is seeking to modify its operating license, which would involve a potentially lengthy hearing process.

—David Wagman, Executive Editor/Content Director, davidw@powermag.com

This story was originally published on Feb. 27