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As one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, Southern California Edison (SCE) and the management of its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) are committed to top performance and providing safe, efficient and affordable energy to nearly 4.9 million customer accounts. As a result of exhaustive benchmarking and analysis of industry best practices, SCE has concluded that SONGS’ staffing and costs are significantly higher than other similar dual unit, non-fleet nuclear power plants. Indicators also show there are opportunities to reduce operating and maintenance costs by improving plant processes while fully maintaining all safety commitments. As a result, SCE announced today its intent to downsize the SONGS’ organization to 1,500 – a reduction of approximately 730 employees – beginning fourth quarter of 2012.
This effort was initiated more than two years ago as part of the larger SONGS Excellence plan to align SCE’s processes and staffing levels with the top performing nuclear operating plants in the industry and its benchmarked best practices.
SCE previously testified to the anticipated staff reduction in its pending General Rate Case testimony. Strict California environmental and regulatory standards, coupled with a greater financial investment to replace aging infrastructure, have increased the overall cost of delivering electricity to customers, highlighting the need to achieve greater efficiencies where possible, including at SONGS.
The steam generator issues at SONGS also require that SCE be prudent with its future spending while SCE and regulators review the long-term viability of the nuclear plant. The reality is that the Unit 3 reactor will not be operating for some time.
Deliberate steps will be taken over the next year to ensure SONGS is prepared to operate safely and in alignment with SCE’s future operating budgets.
Over the next two months, SONGS’ employee workloads will be quantified and peer comparisons made to better understand what specific changes are necessary to transition to top performer status. A decision regarding the new organizational structure is anticipated in late October.