Capitol Alert Insider Edition

Insider Access - Exclusive content for the Insider Edition iPad and iPhone apps

Note: Capitol Alert Insider Edition stories are for the exlusive use of subscribers of the service. You can subscribe with your iPhone or iPad in the App Store.
June 8, 2013
Editorial: San Onofre plant shutdown will test state's power supplies


(June 7 -- By the Editorial Board)

Southern California Edison's announcement on Friday that it won't restart the San Onofre nuclear power plant shouldn't shock anyone, least of all Gov. Jerry Brown.

But word that a huge source of California's electricity will be dark forever ought to jolt the governor, the official who will be held most responsible if California faces rolling blackouts this summer and beyond, as happened during Gray Davis' truncated tenure.

Brown and his friend, California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey, made the right statements in the wake of Edison's announcement.

Along with the California Energy Commission, they are engaged in long-term planning and are on top of the issue, they say.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and anti-nuclear energy activists hailed the closure. Clearly, nuclear power long ago failed to live up to its promises. Its legacy in the form of spent waste will remain a problem for centuries.

But San Onofre and California's one remaining nuke, Diablo Canyon, delivered more than 15 percent of California's electricity. San Onofre cannot be replaced solely by sun and wind, at least not with current technology.

California is leading the nation and in many respects the world into a future that embraces renewable energy. But the power grid - and the economy - will require reliable baseline power for the foreseeable future. With the San Onofre plant shuttered, there must be alternatives.

"For the health of the state's environment and its economy, it is critical for California to get this transformation right," the nonpartisan Little Hoover Commission said in a report last year.

Edison turned off San Onofre last year when a tube leaked radioactive steam, which led to a discovery that other tubes were rapidly corroding. The utility announced the permanent closure after concluding that repairs would cost too much.

There will be plenty of investigating and litigating over blame for the faulty tubing. But this is clear: Californians don't want to think twice when they flip their switches. The governor should hope that this summer and subsequent ones will be relatively mild. Otherwise, the state's power grid could face a repeat of past serious tests.

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.

November 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30