James Conca explains why California threw away over 13 billion kWhrs of low-carbon electricity each year

Just to recap the SONGS foolishness, three years ago Mitsubishi Heavy Industries sold four new steam generators to SONGS in which the steam generators installed for just one of the two SONGS nuclear reactors contained a manufacturing feature that resulted in a perfect pitch harmonic vibration at 100% steam flow. Vibration amplitudes were large enough in a few hundred steam tubes, out of nearly 10,000, to make contact between them. This unexpected vibration and contact resulted in one tube failing (SONGS Root Cause Analysis). No radiation or other safety issue is a concern with this type of problem, but that’s not what it sounded like in the press.

The other reactor was fine.

This vibration problem did not exist when the system was run at lower power and the unit could be run safely at 70% power.

All we had to do was decrease one reactor’s output by 20% to solve the problem, which would have dropped total output of SONGS by only 8%. So instead of putting out 15 billion kWhrs of electricity each year, SONGS could have put out over 13 billion kWhrs of low-carbon electricity each year. This could have been sustained for 20 years.

Instead, California now has to maintain a shuttered plant for at least that long that is not producing anything and can no longer even pay its taxes for storing its nuclear waste. The cost will, of course, probably be passed on to rate payers somehow.

But such a simple and obvious solution as running at the correct output was not acceptable. In fact, nuclear scientists and engineers (you know, the ones we train for decades to solve these types of problems) were shouted down so fast and so loud by politicos and activists with no understanding of the problem, you’d have thought it was Salem in 1692.

Read on, I think you will agree that James nails it.

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