Solar energy generation reaches record level in California with closure of San Onofre looming

SOUTHERN CALIF. – With Southern California’s largest electric generating station broken and scheduled for removal, solar generation levels have reached a record level in California, state officials said today.

Solar power generation on California’s grid set a new all-time high output of 2,071 megawatts at 12:59 p.m. Friday, June 7, said officials at the California ISO, the state agency that balances customer demand on regulated

power utilities with power generation from commercial vendors.

That nearly equals the 2,250 megawatts of nuclear-powered generation that was lost in January, 2012, when small amounts of radiation began leaking from Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, at

Camp Pendleton.

The amount of solar energy generated on Friday was enough to power more than 1.5 million homes across California, Cal ISO officials said.

“This new record is remarkable considering the amount has more than doubled since last September. when solar peaked at 1,000 megawatts,” said Steve Berberich, the agency’s president. “We are excited by this trend and expect to hit more record peaks on a regular basis.”

California is the largest producer of solar power in the nation. Total statewide electric demand on Friday was about 36,000 megawatts, meaning solar power supplied more than five percent of demand for electricity, the agency said.

Despite the solar wattage surge, regulators predicted very-tight supplies of electricity for California this summer. Natural gas-powered generators were expected to fill much of the need.

But Cal ISO officials have said southern Orange County and San Diego County have relied on the San Onofre nuclear power beyond just its megawatts of power. The once-reliable constant power from its two nuclear generators were

also used as a gigantic voltage regulator for Southern California, allowing engineers to mix power from different sources into the grid and allocate it where necessary.

The loss of San Onofre’s voltage regulation function has challenged engineers, and state officials have drafted contingency plans to avoid system overloads and malfunctions. Southern Orange County and San Diego County are the particularly-vulnerable areas, Cal ISO officials said last winter.

An old natural gas generating station at Huntington Beach, once scheduled for mothballs, was pressed into service as an emergency voltage regulator last summer, allowing blackouts to be averted.

9 Responses to "Solar energy generation reaches record level in California with closure of San Onofre looming"

  1. Lee   June 9, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    Gee, it’s about time we actually joined the 21st century . . . and the rest of the world.

    Aren’t we the ones who sent the first man to the moon?

  2. Dann   June 10, 2013 at 7:29 am

    Despite the optimism, I think we will still some blackouts this summer. 2,250 megawatts is alot of power off the grid. Come August and Sept, we’ll find out.

  3. Pink   June 10, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I predict rolling blackouts this summer when it gets really, really hot. Let’s all hope that I am wrong!

  4. FR86   June 10, 2013 at 9:31 am

    To Lee,

    Apparently we left him there………………..

    With all that’s happened with technology since then our inability to address our power needs is inexcusable. Our leadership has truly failed.

  5. Bill Hawkins   June 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    Edison thinks Shutting San Onofre and dipping into 2.7 Billion Dollar Decommissioning Fund will silence Public, Critics, Barbara Boxer, NRC Office of Inspector General/Investigations. IF Edison thinks that they can continue to reap their profits with the help of CPUC and enjoy/party their life in their Multi-Million Dollar Beach Glass Homes with Decommissioning Funds, they are Wrong Again?

    Decontamination, Demolition, Dismantling and Decommissioning San Onofre and handling of radioactive waste is a very serious business, which requires the right management, procedures, contractors and strict NRC Oversight. Based on the last 10 years of observations at SONGS for SGRP, all these factors are missing at San Onofre now. Therefore, a 3rd neutral party with competent oversight organization with Decontamination, Demolition, Dismantling and Decommissioning experience of a NPP and reporting directly to a very Strict NRC Resident Inspector is needed to do the job right first time following the INPO Principles of Excellence. Ratepayers cannot afford by Edison another Multi-Billion Dollar Mess.

  6. Mike W   June 11, 2013 at 11:04 am

    I for one am very happy the plant closed for good, nuclear energy is not safe or clean and they all leak radiation, so if I have to suffer a few blackouts, so be it. I remember the power outage last year, my son and I were on our computers working and his girlfriend was watching TV when the power went out. I picked some vegetables from the garden and went next door to check on an elderly lady who lived alone, I found her on her porch listening to her transistor radio. We both listened as the announcer told us the outage went from south orange county all the way into Arizona and that brought a big smile and wide eyed excitement on my neighbors face. When I returned home we built a small campfire in the backyard and sat around poking at the embers and talked like never before, it was great. One other thing I noticed when the lights went out was feeling completely relaxed for the first time in a long time, no doubt from not being inundated by electromagnetic fields and radio waves from electricity, routers and smart meters. My friend called to say he was stranded, the traffic came to a complete stop since everybody got off work at the same time, it took him an hour just to get off the freeway and find a spot next to the beach to park where he was going to take a nap until traffic started moving again.
    It was then that I realized that if there ever was an accident at the plant, there would be no escape for those of us who live within the fifty mile danger zone, (we live less than 20 mile radius which is much worse), especially due to those marvelous breezes from the coast our friendly village is famous for.. So yes I am happy to hear of the closing of San Onofre, yes a thousand times yes. We can and will do much better than that…

  7. CPUC = Continually Pushing Up Costs   June 11, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    It figures that Mike W only finds true happiness when the power is out, thousands of people are stranded, food rots and the economy grinds to a halt. He probably is wetting his pants right now with the anticipation of all the future outages that will be occurring. He will be in seventh heaven when martial law has to be declared to stop the looting and people are lying in the streets starving to death.

    Believe it or not, radiation occurs naturally. You are exposed to it everyday. Having SONGS shut down will not make any radiation go away and in fact the replacement energy will come from coal which actually puts more radiation in the air you breath. Burning coal will also result in more carbon release and increase global warming.

    You can blame the Mike W’s of the world when the summer heat unbearable but nobody can afford to run their A/C.

    Bill Hawkins makes it sound like SONGS will be parkland someday. He knows his efforts have turned a once valuable energy source into a permanent nuclear waste dump but isn’t willing to admit it. Don’t be surprised when the CPUC agrees with SCE that ratepayers need to foot the entire cost of the SONGS disaster. I predict our power rates will double within the next seven years. That should make the solar crowd really happy.

  8. Check it out   June 11, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    100% correct CPUC. Our utility bills are going to triple and the first ones to complain will be the liberal left. They love to create a a situation like this, but have no clue at all how to clean up the mess they leave behind. They could care less about over a 1000 people left without jobs and families to feed, they don’t give a thought to how the state of California, already broke, is going to pay off on even more unemployment claims, not their problem. SDG&E are the only winners here. Boxer will just hop in her limo and go to another fancy cocktail party in Washington, or San Francisco, giving no thought at all to what will happen now. If I were the big wheels at Edison I would walk off and let the lefties figure how what to do with the defunct plant.

  9. CPUC = Continually Pushing Up Costs   June 13, 2013 at 8:35 am

    The record amount of solar energy being produced in California is actually an indication of how bad the CPUC is at regulating electric costs. The EPA has determined that 33.7 kwh is equivalent to one Gallon of gas. When the CPUC takes over regulation of the oil/gas industry, and I’m sure that day is coming, here is how it will work based on SDG&E rates today. Each month your first 9.5 gallons of gas (=322 kwh tier 1) you will be charged $5.05 per gallon (=0.15 $/kwh X 33.7 kwh). The next 2.9 gallons you buy that month (=97 kwh tier 2) will cost $5.73 per gallon. The next 6.7 gallons (225 kwh tier 3) will be $9.10 per gallon. All gas above your monthly allotment of 19.1 gallons will cost you $9.77 per gallon.

    Of course electric rates are going up by an average of 12.2%, so these costs figures will need to be adjusted up as well in August. They haven’t published the actual tier rates, but my guess is that tier 4 will be much higher than the 12.2% average increase. It could be 100% higher and they still would be accurate in telling people that the average electrical user is ONLY going to see a 12.2% higher bill. Of course big energy using companies will need to raise their prices and as a result everybody will be paying more for goods and services, so don’t think you are going to get off cheap just because you don’t use much electric or have a big solar array on your house.

    Also, keep in mind that 2 MW of solar is nowhere near equal to 2 MW of nuclear production. Nuclear generation units run at capacity all day and night when on, whereas solar energy peaks for a very short time during midday in the summer and for the rest of the day and most of the winter months production is at a much lower output. The solar crowd won’t tell you this, but solar doesn’t even put out any energy after the sun goes down. Unbelievable but true. If the author of this article wanted to be even remotely honest they would have stated the solar output in MWh compared to conventional generation for the state in MWh. Then you would realize how small the solar contribution really is.


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