Rocky Mountain Institute Briefing Outlines Short-Term Solutions for Responding to San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Paper Reviews Viability of Options for Region's Electricity System

November 19, 2012--Snowmass, CO
Today, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) released a briefing outlining near-term solutions for the outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), including energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, storage, and solar photovoltaics (PV).

The prolonged and potentially permanent shut-down of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in Southern California could mark an important turning point for the region’s electricity system. RMI’s discussion paper, “Reinventing Fire in Southern California: Distributed Resources and the San Onofre Outage” outlines how distributed and demand-side resources can help fill the near-term generation gap, while also advancing California’s long-term goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting local economic development and job creation.

RMI’s analysis found that in Southern California demand response could serve as a key mechanism for addressing the capacity shortfall. Over the next two years, estimates show demand-response levels could be raised by as much as 1,100 MW statewide, an increase of more than 45 percent.

“The SONGS shutdown offers California energy planners a unique opportunity to move more swiftly towards renewable energy generation levels ” said James Newcomb, program director at RMI. “But utilities, planners, regulators and policymakers will need to act quickly and boldly. Replacing the lost capacity from San Onofre is an immediate need, not a scenario that lends itself to years of study.”

The briefing posits three recommendations to accelerate adoption of distributed energy resources:
  • Create a level playing field by pursuing policies that fairly account for the benefit of distributed resources and encourages them to scale up quickly.
  • Investigate applying targeted incentives to encourage deployment of distributed resources in geographical areas where energy is most needed.
  • Hasten permitting and interconnection procedures to fast-track solar resources coming online.
“At all levels of the system, integration and flexibility will be essential to adapting to a highly renewable future,” Newcomb said. “New technologies and business models are emerging to achieve this flexibility and to create a system that could actually be more resilient and self-healing than today’s grid. But, we can only get there if we can create the right incentives for stakeholders throughout the system.”


About Rocky Mountain Institute
Rocky Mountain Institute is an independent, entrepreneurial, nonprofit think-and-do tank. RMI emphasizes integrative design, advanced technologies, and mindful markets in fulfilling its mission to drive the efficient and restorative use of resources. RMI’s strategic focus is to map and drive the U.S. transition from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables by 2050. Visit for more information.