Southern California Edison has proposal to restart Unit 2 at San Onofre plant by summer

Plant has been idle since January 2012

SAN DIEGO - Southern California Edison announced Friday that it has a new proposal to restart Unit 2 at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Plant, in time to meet peak demand for electricity this summer.

The company is considering submitting a license amendment request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and is requesting a meeting with the NRC, which would be open to the public.

There was no immediate word from the NRC if it would grant the meeting or when it might happen.

In a news release, SCE said the proposed amendment is in line with its "plan to operate the unit's steam generators at 70 percent power as a conservative safety measure."

Earlier this week, the company announced a technical evaluation said one of the two reactors at San Onofre could be safely restarted and put to use at full power.

Out of an abundance of caution, the company said it would "only operate Unit 2 at 70 percent power for an initial period of five months, following which the unit will be shut down for steam generator tube inspections."

"We want to do every responsible thing we can do to get Unit 2 up and running safely before the summer heat hits our region," SCE President Ron Litzinger said in the news release. "We're considering a request for a license amendment so that we can pursue the best path to safe restart while avoiding unnecessary delays."

The nuclear plant on the northern San Diego County coastline has been idle since January 2012, when a small leak was found in the other reactor, Unit 3. No one was hurt and the reactor was shut down.

Unit 2 is a steam generator that was undergoing scheduled maintenance at the time and hasn't been restarted.

The NRC expects to have a technical evaluation and inspection report complete and publicly available by May, according to the agency's website.

Critics say equipment changes after initial licensing is to blame for the leak in Unit 3, and are wary of a restart in Unit 2.

Anti-nuclear activists say they believe the steam generator replacements installed a few years ago were of such a different design from their predecessors, that the utility should have had to go through an expensive license amendment process during the replacement period.

SCE maintains the generators are safe.

If it pursues the amendment, the SCE news release said will submit an analysis "demonstrating the license amendment does not involve any significant safety risks."

San Diego Gas & Electric owns 20 percent of the plant and receives one-fifth of SONGS' power when it's operational.

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