By Nolan P. Smith
(Victorville)—With last week’s announcement that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) will be closing, the question arises on who will take its place for generating power. For Victorville, this could mean a step in the right direction for Power Plant 2, known as Victorville 2 or VV2. There needs to be a gas plant that can produce 3,500 megawatts of power and VV2 has the right components.
Southern California Edison (SCE) has decided to permanently retire Units 2 and 3 of its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Both SONGS units have been shut down safely since January 2012. Unit 2 was taken out of service January 9, 2012, for a planned routine outage. Unit 3 was safely taken offline January 31, 2012, after station operators detected a small leak in a tube inside a steam generator manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). Two steam generators manufactured by MHI were installed in Unit 2 in 2009 and two more were installed in Unit 3 in 2010, one of which developed the leak.
“Well it’s surprising,” said City of Victorville’s Mayor Pro-Tem Ryan McEachron regarding the announcement, “I actually did not think that would be happening. I thought that Southern California Edison would have done everything they could to keep that asset online and get it back up and operational. But understanding the cost they were incurring and some other issues there were experiencing, I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising that they made the decision that they did, and I am sure it didn’t come lightly.”
“Well first I think it was a very shorthanded and foolish thing that the state did,” said former Victorville Mayor and Councilmember Mike Rothschild, “But that’s the policy that they are living by: the environmental movement has a death grip on energy issues in the state, so I’m not surprised it happened but it was the wrong thing to do. Having said that, and turning it around the other way, it’s a good thing for Victorville and VV2. I don’t know firsthand, but I think customers are already looking to Victorville one of the replacements. “
McEachron spoke about the position this possibly puts the future of VV2 in, “It definitely puts Victorville back in the driver’s seat with respect to VV2. In the past we have been looking to sell development rights to a company that would ultimately build that power plant, and of course without the need for power out there, it became very difficult for us to get that done. But now, the likelihood of that getting done and Victorville not only being made whole but also seeing a substantial benefit from the overall development of that plant.
“Quite frankly, although there are other plants currently in the construction process,” said McEachron, “San Onofre provided about 3,500 megawatts of power, and even with all the plants that are currently under construction, it will not replace that. So it makes Victorville VV2 a very valuable asset to anybody that is looking to develop power that ultimately will go back into the California grid.”
San Onofre is jointly owned by SCE (78.21 percent), San Diego Gas & Electric (20 percent) and the city of Riverside (1.79 percent).