Edison calls for arbitration against Mitsubishi over faulty generators at San Onofre

Southern California Edison, operator of the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, has turned to the International Chamber of Commerce to request arbitration to settle a dispute over how much of an estimated $4 billion in losses related to the plant’s premature closing should be absorbed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

The company was fingered last month by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission for faulty calculations in designing new steam generators, one of which had a tube burst that led to a small amount of radiation being released into the atmosphere that led to the shutdown, and Edison has taken the offensive in blame-shifting ever since.

Nuclear-safety watchdogs, however, have been arguing since April 2012 that Edison was aware that the new generators constituted a significant redesign as compared to the units they were replacing, and that the company downplayed this information at the time the units were installed in order to avoid a more thorough Nuclear Regulatory Commission review of the replacement plans.

The arbitration request follows a 90-day period of negotiation after Edison filed a notice of dispute, which would have allowed the parties to reach a settlement without resorting to binding arbitration.

“We are taking this step today to ensure that Mitsubishi takes responsibility for providing defective steam generators and to recover, on behalf of our customers, all damages from Mitsubishi for its failures,” said Edison president Ron Litzinger in an October 16 release.

Edison has also been conducting an advertising campaign in its service areas (San Diego is served by San Diego Gas & Electric, a minority owner of the San Onofre plant) arguing that ratepayers should also shoulder some of the burden for the company’s losses on its bad investment.

Investors in Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, seem optimistic about the company’s prospects for shifting the losses from shareholders to other parties — the stock is up over 2 percent since yesterday’s announcement.

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