Southern California Edison announced Friday it would shut down the troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant.
The move comes 17 months after the San Onofre plant was closed because of problems in steam generator systems. The plant powered about 1.4 million households in Southern California before the outage.
Until now, Edison had vowed to restart the plant. But the company released a statement Friday saying it would stop the process to fire up the plant.
“We have concluded that the continuing uncertainty about when or if [the plant] might return to service was not good for our customers, our investors, or the need to plan for our region’s long-term electricity needs,” said Ted Craver, chairman and chief executive of Edison International, parent company of SCE.
SCE President Ron Litzinger said in a statement: “Looking ahead, we think that our decision to retire the units will eliminate uncertainty and facilitate orderly planning for California’s energy future.”
[Updated at 6:37 p.m.: Edison International Chief Executive Ted Craver said Friday that the company had spent more than $500 million on replacement power during the plant’s outage].
San Onofre was shuttered after a tube in the plant’s replacement steam generator system leaked a small amount of radioactive steam on Jan. 31, 2012. Eight other tubes in the same reactor unit later failed pressure tests, an unprecedented number in the industry, and thousands more tubes in both of the plant’s units showed signs of wear.
The wear was blamed on tube vibration caused by excessively dry and high-velocity steam and inadequate support structures, particularly in one of the plant’s two units. Tube vibration and wear has been a problem at other plants, but the specific type of vibration at San Onofre had not been experienced in the industry.
Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric — which has a 20% stake in the plant — spent more than $780 million replacing the steam generators several years ago, which ratepayers are now repaying.