San Diego Gas & Electric is partnering with Southern California Edison to attempt to keep the lights on this summer in the absence of the 2,200 megwatts from the temporarily inactive San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
that led to the discovery of , officials said this month the nuclear plant
In the mean time, Duane Cave, an SDG&E spokesman, presented some potential solutions to the San Clemente City Council Tuesday that the company will use to try to keep the lights on in Northern San Diego County and Orange County—he hopes.
"This will be the first summer [since the plant was built] we've ever gone without having San Onofre operating during summer," Cave said. "Customers must be made aware of the need to conserve during warm days more than ever before."
The ISO is the consortium that allocates electricity among utilities throughout the state.
Residential users will get a discount on their bill if they use less power between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., and they can sign up to receive notifications about when it's most important to conserve, Cave said.
Also, certain big commercial clients pay a special low electricity rate in return for an obligation to the utility that they'll cut power first if a shortage is imminent, Cave said.
But technicians, engineers and contractors are working on the supply side, too, Cave said.
Without the San Onofre nuclear plant, the California Independent System Operator figures there's a capacity in the area of 48,091 megawatts, Cave said.
(One megawatt can power about 650 single-family homes.)
The ISO estimates demand, during a normal summer, to reach only 46,352 megawatts—if we're lucky.
"We're hoping for another mild one," Cave said about the summer.
Some bad news: The snowpack in the mountains this year is anemic, so the ISO is expecting at least 1,100 fewer megawatts from hydroelectric power this year.
SoCal Edison is working on the Barre-Ellis transmission line project, which it hopes to finish soon. The line stretches 13 miles between the Barre and Ellis substations, and its entire length lies within Orange County, according to a California Public Utilities Commission filing. The line will help import more power to the South OC/North San Diego grid, where officials say there is the most danger of losing power during heat waves.
Furthermore, SDG&E's Sunrise Powerlink, the last tower of which was set June 4, is capable of piping in up to 1,000 megawatts, but engineers figure it can only handle about 500 this summer as it's ramped up into service, Cave said. The line leads 117 miles east through San Diego, roughly along the Mexican border and down into the Imperial Valley substation.
SDG&E—which in addition to San Diego County, powers all or part of seven cities in South Orange County—operates several gas-fired plants through west San Diego County, which will pump voltage into the grid. Also, two retired gas plant units in Huntington Beach will come online, working to keep the grid's voltage up to necessary levels.
The Encina Power Plant in Encinitas juices the grid with 965 megawatts, while plants in Palomar and Otay Mesa both produce 500 megawatts, Cave said Tuesday.
To make up any potential shortfalls, SDG&E is banking on importing more power and is working through operational studies to figure out other sources for the summer before temperatures soar in July and August.