SCE completes construction project at San Onofre nuclear plant

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Rosemead, Calif., February 21, 2011 — San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Unit 3 was reconnected to the Southern California power grid.

The milestone signals the safe, successful completion of a 10-year construction project — replacing the plant’s largest components, its steam generators.

The project created roughly 1,300 construction jobs during 2009 and 2010, and generated about $300 million in local spending, including wages, equipment, material and services purchased from local businesses.

SCE decided to replace the San Onofre plant’s steam generators when a cost-benefit assessment revealed the overhaul could save customers some $1 billion during the plant’s current license period, which runs through 2022.

Each of the four new steam generators — two per reactor — is 65 feet tall, 22 feet in diameter and weighs 640 tons. The components produce steam that drives the plant’s huge turbines, generating enough total electricity to serve 1.4 million average homes.

Removing the original components and installing the replacement equipment required cutting a temporary opening in the side of each of two protective concrete domes.

Measures were taken to ensure public safety during the process, including removal of all fuel from the unit. The construction process used to reseal the opening created domes of equal or greater strength.

The plant’s steam generators were among the last in the U.S. nuclear power fleet to require replacement. Previously, the replacement process had been successfully and safely carried out on 52 of 58 pressurized water reactors.

An application for steam generator replacement was filed with the California Public Utilities Commission in February 2004 and approved by the panel in December 2005, after a detailed review showed the project would benefit utility customers.

Total project costs of $671 million will be shared among plant co-owners SCE, San Diego Gas and Electric and the city of Riverside.

The cost of the component replacement was found to be beneficial to customers based on the current license period — 2022. SCE’s final decision on whether to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for license renewal for San Onofre’s two units is pending.

SCE expects to file an application with the CPUC during 2011, seeking approval to recover costs associated with the nuclear plant license renewal process. If SCE decides to move forward with the renewal, it anticipates filing its NRC application in 2013.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at

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