Two retired natural gas-powered generators at the AES plant on Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach were fired back up this weekend to help with summer demand as the region struggles with the sudden loss of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. With SONGS down, Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego counties would be more vulnerable to summer blackouts if AES remained offline, according to Southern California's energy grid operator.
As AES provides about 440 megawatts to the region, the California Independent System Operator and Southern California Edison, which operates SONGS, have vowed to also step up transmission upgrades and customer conservation incentives.
The Huntington Beach plant is currently scheduled to remain online through October, when a new plant in the city of Industry is planned to take over those emission credits.
It is estimated that SONGS, where thousands of leaks in relatively new steam generator tubes in two units have been discovered, will be out at least three more months.
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Meanwhile, Edison says it will use the down time to perform a $64 million, California Public Utilities Commission-approved study to assess possible impacts from earthquake faults surrounding SONGS.
Guess who gets to pay for that? If you guessed anyone other than ratepayers, guess again.
Edison is hoping to build a case for keeping SONGS humming beyond its scheduled 2022 decommissioning.