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Nuclear Regulators May Decide on San Onofre Restart by March

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission may decide by March whether to allow Edison International to start a reactor at the San Onofre nuclear station that’s been shut since January because of tube wear.

The agency presented its first tentative timeline today for powering up Unit 2 at the 2,200-megawatt Southern California plant. The commission may notify parties in March of its intent to issue a decision and will render an actual ruling five to 30 days after the notice, the plan posted on its website shows.

“We know there’s a great deal of curiosity and the agency wants to be as informative and transparent as possible,” Victor Dricks, a commission spokesman in Arlington, Texas, said by telephone. “Clearly it may change as new information comes to light. This is an estimate based on what’s been seen so far.”

The nuclear plant, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) south of Los Angeles, can produce power for 1.4 million homes, according to Edison’s website. Futures based on California carbon allowances are trading at a two-month high partly on speculation that the plant will remain shut next year, increasing demand on more emissions-intensive, natural gas-fired power plants.

Unit 3

Edison, based in Rosemead, California, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment on the NRC’s timeline. The company hasn’t provided dates for the start of Unit 2 or of Unit 3, which has also been shut since January after the company discovered a leak and tube damage.

Edison said in October that Unit 2 would restart at 70 percent of capacity to avoid shaking damaged pipes. Five months after that, Edison said it would shut the unit again to inspect the steam generator for tube wear.

The company is considering replacing or repairing Unit 3. Edison said in October that it was unloading fuel from the reactor.

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