After a tiny radioactive leak in January, the San Onofre nuclear power plant was shut down. It’s been off ever since, taking away one of San Diego’s key energy sources and sending state officials scrambling to find replacement power.

The problem was traced to faulty equipment in the plant’s steam generators, its single largest components. They’d just been replaced, at a cost of $671 million — a pricetag that California electricity customers will pay.

We teamed up with NBC 7 San Diego to explain what went wrong at the nuclear plant, what’s kept it offline and what you should watch for in the future.

Watch the video below and read our in-depth explainer about the problems and San Onofre’s troubled history.

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Correction: This San Diego Explained segment incorrectly stated that 700 layoffs have happened at San Onofre. In fact, those layoffs haven’t happened yet but are planned before the year’s end. We regret the error. 

Rob Davis is a senior reporter at Voice of San Diego. You can contact him directly at or 619.325.0529.

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