San Diego Gas & Electric announced Monday that it is looking to buy 500-800 megawatts of electricity from local producers to replace what had flowed from the San Onofre power plant.
At least 200 megawatts would need to come from renewable sources, according to SDG&E. The utility said it would accept bids until Jan. 5.
"With the region facing a future without the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, we must take new and creative approaches to the problem to help sustain reliability in the region at the lowest cost," said James Avery, senior vice president of power supply for SDG&E. "As our customers value sound environmental solutions, we're committed to achieving this by adding additional cleaner fuels to our portfolio to help to pave the way for a greener, brighter energy future."
According to SDG&E, 23 percent of its electricity came from renewable sources last year and expects to get 33 percent of its juice from renewable sources by the end of this year — six years ahead of the state-mandated target. Utility officials credited the Sunrise Powerlink, a major transmission line that connects SDG&E's service territory to solar and wind energy facilities in the desert east of San Diego.
The nuclear plant at San Onofre, on the northern San Diego County coast, has been idle since a noninjury radioactive leak in January 2012. Investigators blamed steam generators that vibrated excessively under pressure. They were made by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan and installed only a few years earlier.
The majority owner of the facility, Southern California Edison, shelved restart plans in June 2013 in favor of retiring the reactors.
The shutdown has ignited debate over whether the customers or utilities should bear the brunt of costs of decommissioning the nuclear power plant and buying replacement electricity.
On Friday, a California Public Utilities commissioner, along with the agency's administrative law judges, said a settlement proposed earlier this year by the utilities and ratepayer advocates placed too high a burden on customers. They said the settlement would need to be revised before it can come before the commissioners for approval.
SDG&E owned 20 percent of the plant and received a fifth of its power from it.