California Power Outages Happening as Predicted When Nuclear Reactors Were Shutdown

In 2018 and many other times, California was warned there would be power interruptions when nuclear reactors were shutdown.

California has been having power outages and rolling blackouts because of insufficient power this summer. There was increased demand for electricity for air conditioning as temperatures reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 120F. The shortfall was also due to calm winds which reduced the electricity from wind farms. The shortfall in electrical generation would have been met if the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station had been repaired and restarted for $75 million in 2012.

Failing to spend $75 million in 2012 is costing California billions in power outage costs. California is choosing to continue down the path of closing nuclear reactors and there are plans to reduce natural gas electrical generation. California wants to rely nearly completely on solar and wind and batteries. Having enough batteries for part of one day of power interruption will not be built until 2045. Solar and Wind can have months lower low power generation during winter months. Batteries and solar and wind alone would not be able to stabilize a power grid for normal seasonal power fluctuation over a regular year. All years are not regular. There can be years with even lower wind and sun for some months. A reliable power grid would need to look at patterns that occur once or occasionally every decade or century because the grid needs to work year after year for decades.

Solar and wind generation can go down for months and electrical demand can increase.

Here is a quote from the San Diego Union Tribune in 2018 when California voted to close the Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor in 2024:

Supporters of nuclear energy said closing Diablo Canyon will cause the state to use more natural gas — a fossil fuel — in order to replace the electricity generated by the plant.

“I’m sorely disappointed the CPUC has neglected the ratepayers and the environment,” said Gene Nelson, government liaison with Californians for Green Nuclear Power. “Solar and wind cannot be counted on …They’re subject to random interruptions.”

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station plant was shut down in 2013 after there were problems with replacement steam generators. California chose not to spend $75 million to repair and restart the San Onofre nuclear reactor.

The average cost of residential electricity in California is about 19 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is almost 50% more than the US average of 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.

Large power outage costs can easily run into the billions of dollars. The Interruption Cost Estimate (ICE) Calculator is an electric reliability planning tool developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Nexant, Inc. This tool is designed for electric reliability planners at utilities, government organizations, and other entities that are interested in estimating interruption costs and/or the benefits associated with reliability improvements in the United States.

SOURCES- ICE Calculator, SCRP, San Diego Tribune
Written By Brian Wang,