SACRAMENTO -- A majority of electricity consumers in Orange and San Diego counties would prefer that energy needed to replace the output of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant come from renewable, non-polluting sources, according to a new poll.
The survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C., for the Sierra Club, concludes that 56% of ratepayers in the two counties want new power to come from wind, solar and other sources that do not rely on fossil fuel.
About 4 in 5 customers of Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. said it was very important that San Onofre's 2,200 megawatts of output not be replaced by new power plants that contribute to air pollution.
State officials at the Public Utilities Commission, the Energy Commission and other agencies have been working on a plan to backfill half of San Onofre's production with gas-fired power plants and half from renewable sources and energy efficiency programs. A final decision on the plan is pending with state regulators.
But the Sierra Club criticized the proposal. "Spending billions on more dirty gas plants is completely out of step with the public's desire to see more clean energy and less pollution and carbon emissions," said Evan Gillespie, a Sierra Club spokesman.
A mixture of natural-gas-fired generation, conservation, efficiency and renewables is needed to compensate for the loss of San Onofre's electricity output, state energy officials say.
San Onofre shut down in January 2012 after a radioactive leak was discovered in defective steam generators. Southern California Edison decided to permanently retire the facility near San Clemente in San Diego County in June 2013.
The poll of 1,065 power customers was conducted Jan. 3 to Jan. 5. It had a margin of error of 3%.