News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

Poll: Half SCE's Customers Would Keep San Onofre Nuke Shut

The San Onofre nuclear power plant | Photo: Nuclear Regulatory Commission/Flickr/Creative Commons License

A poll of 700 registered voters in the service district of Southern California Edison found half would support keeping the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant shut permanently and turning to renewable energy and conservation to make up any power shortfall. That number increased to 58% when pollsters read a short factual statement describing the current situation at San Onofre.

The poll, taken in September by the firm David Binder Research, was carried out by the anti-nuclear group Friends of The Earth.

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The statement the poll-takers read participants essentially described the reasons for the shutdown:

As you may have heard, the two nuclear reactors at the San Onofre nuclear power plant have been offline since January due to an accident that released radiation into the environment and the discovery of unexpected wear on scores of steam generator tubes that carry radioactive water and steam. A three-month federal probe blamed a significantly flawed computer analysis of major generator design changes which ultimately resulted in heavy wear to the alloy tubing. The operator, Southern California Edison, has yet to determine how to correct the problem.

Support for keeping the plant shut crossed county and demographic lines, according to Binder, and concern about possible nuclear accidents was expressed by 73% of respondents, including some who supported opening the plant.

30% of respondents opposed keeping San Onofre shut down, and 32% said they thought California ought to rely more on nuclear power to meet its energy consumption needs. 35% said that nuclear should play a much smaller role than it does at present.

Perhaps most distressingly for the utility, nearly half the respondents -- 47% -- said they felt SCE put profits ahead of public safety. 41% said they felt SCE put safety first, and 12% weren't sure.

Interviews for the poll were conducted between September 11 and 17, 2012. Binder says the poll has a margin of error of ±3.7%.

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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