Work Begins Soon to Complete Reef Expansion Project

ROSEMEAD, Calif., June 5, 2020 — Southern California Edison could resume work as early as Monday to complete the Wheeler North Reef expansion project, if ocean conditions allow. The project began last year off the Orange County coast. Initially started in 2008, the Wheeler North Reef was constructed as a mitigation measure related to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to help increase the number of residential fish in the area. Before the expansion began, the reef covered 174.5 acres and supported an average of about 14 tons of local fish.

The reef is doing extremely well, yet it is not large enough to attract sufficient numbers of fish, so an expansion project began to increase the reef by 200 acres for a total of 374 acres. The expansion will aid the effort to meet the 28-tons-per-year target set by the California Coastal Commission, the governmental body overseeing the mitigation project.

Work to expand the reef began last July and ended in October, at the beginning of lobster season, when the project was about two-thirds finished. This year, 58,000 tons of rock remain to be placed. The area where rock placement will take place this summer stretches from north of the San Clemente Pier to just south of Dana Point Harbor.

The rocks provide an anchor for the kelp to bond to and grow, sometimes up to 2 feet per day. The reef attracts sea life, including several types of fish such as sheepshead, bass and black seabass. Lobsters and urchins also live there. As the kelp grows, sometimes parts of it will break off, especially during storms, forming kelp patties. These are used as temporary resting spots by other animals such as seals and sea lions. The rocks for the reef come from quarries in Catalina Island and Baja California.

“This reef, what some have called the largest artificial reef in the world, is already providing benefits to the local marine ecology,” said Jenny McGee, SCE’s project manager for the reef expansion. “Those benefits will extend far into the future as we see more and more marine life thrive in and around these kelp forests.”

Learn more about the Wheeler North Reef Project. Watch the video below:

The Coastal Commission will conduct a webinar June 16 to discuss the project and its progress. The commission asks that the public RSVP via email to Jonna Engel ( if interested in participating.

SCE has posted a safety notice to inform boaters of the project and to make them aware of offshore moorings. The work on the derrick barge will be conducted following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and SCE contractor COVID-19 safety guidelines to protect worker health.

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About Southern California Edison

An Edison International (NYSE: EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of approximately 15 million via 5 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California. 

Media Contact: John Dobken, (626) 302-2255