By Elizabeth Douglass, InsideClimate News
While investigators examine the steam generator damage that has forced the months-long outage at California’s San Onofre nuclear power plant, the cost of the shutdown and any necessary repairs continues to mount—and it’s unclear who will end up paying the bill.
The new costs will easily exceed $100 million—and would be substantially higher if they included ongoing work on the steam generators as well as a prolonged period with reduced or zero power generation. The outlays include equipment repair or replacement costs, the expense of securing power contracts and daily electricity purchases while the plant is off line, as well as items such as increased regulatory oversight and customer-funded incentives for energy conservation.
San Onofre’s troubles are worrisome because it is located on the Southern California coast between San Diego and Orange County—a densely populated region where more than 8 million residents live within a 50-mile radius of the twin reactors. That fact, plus unease over other problems at the aging facility and heightened fears about the safety of all nuclear plants has led some community groups to call for the plant’s permanent closure—a scenario similar to mounting public opposition to the Indian Point nuclear plant near New York City.