We see a similar situation as we move south along the coast. In San Diego, the Encina and South Bay power plants are authorized to deliver a total of about 340 megawatts. Their collective capacity is almost 950 megawatts.

Other problems

All of these facilities generate their power from natural gas, the most abundant, cleanest low-cost energy resource we have in the United States.

More importantly, though, with coal and nuclear energy now out of the question in California, expanding the use of these natural gas facilities represents virtually the only option for substantially increasing our supply of base-load energy in the short term.

In looking at the sizable power capacity we’re leaving on the table in Southern California, it’s clear to see that we can be demanding more of our existing energy infrastructure to help fill the supply gap that San Onofre is leaving behind.

Obviously, repowering some of these existing facilities won’t resolve the power supply issues entirely, with so many other problems to address, such as reorganizing the power transmission grid that revolves around the San Onofre plant. However, producing more power with these facilities is a significant step in the right direction.

In the coming decades, expanding our tool kit with the development of a more robust renewable energy infrastructure will certainly be an important endeavor. But, right now, with such a tight timeframe for decision-making and so much at stake for Southern Californians, let’s focus on what we can be doing with the proven resources we already have to solve this critical problem.

John T. Young Jr. manages the Western region of Conway MacKenzie in downtown Los Angeles, a middle-market financial restructuring and advisory firm. He specializes in crisis management and financial advisory to the energy sector.