San Onofre, which opened in 1968, was capable of powering 1.4 million homes. California officials have said they can make it through the hot season without the plant as long as the summer is uneventful, but warned that wildfires or another disruption in supply could cause power shortages.
Environmentalists celebrated outside the front gates of the beachfront plant, and a pack of bicyclists shouted, “Shut it down!” as they went past.
Gary Headrick of San Clemente Green likened the news to births of his children: “The joy and the relief is comparable to something that big in my life, to know that 8 million people will be safe now from this supposed restart.”
It wasn’t clear how electrical production from the plant would be replaced permanently. The California Public Utilities Commission said it will work with governments to ensure Southern California has enough electricity, which could require increased energy efficiency and conservation, as well as upgrades to equipment.
Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems, which built San Onofre’s steam generators, said it is disappointed with the shutdown decision and remains confident the plant can be operated safely.
Friends of the Earth, an advocacy group critical that was waging a battle to block the restart, praised the decision to close it.
“We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate, and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and the wind,” the group’s president, Erich Pica, said in a statement.