Edison officials have said it is unclear whether a mechanical fix could be implemented to allow the plant to run at full capacity again. But a number of experts said they doubted that would make economic sense. Replacing the steam generators would be even more costly.
"It seems really unlikely that they are going to do that again. I think that they are going to be running at a lower rating and there will be lawsuits about that," said Meredith Angwin, a former steam generator project manager at the Electric Power Research Institute.
The extended shutdown has also sparked debate about whether Southern California's power grid relies too much on San Onofre.
The plant can power about 1.4 million homes — it also plays a crucial role in "voltage support," facilitating the importation of electricity from elsewhere.
Energy officials say that with contingency plans in place, including bringing some mothballed generators at a power plant in Huntington Beach temporarily back online, Southern California should be able to get through a San Onofre-free summer without blackouts. But those fixes are temporary.