The Office of Ratepayer Advocates, a group within the California Public Utilities Commission that represents ratepayers, has reached an agreement with Southern California Edison and SDG&E, co-owners of the shuttered San Onofre nuclear operation. The agreement should benefit ratepayers — but some ratepayer advocates dispute just how much it will help. Consumer advocates have been complaining bitterly that ratepayers have been charged after the San Onofre nuclear plant closed down in January of 2012. Ratepayers say that shareholders, not ratepayers, should have to pay for mistakes made by Edison and SDG&E. Edison had argued that ratepayers should share some of the costs of decommissioning the reactors.
The settlement agreement has to be approved by the full commission.
In essence, the agreement states that any money collected since February 1, 2012, will be refunded to ratepayers, but Edison will be compensated for power purchased after the start of the outage. The deal is for $1.4 billion less than what was requested by Edison and SDG&E, according to Ray Lutz of the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre. At first glance, the settlement agreement "seems like a reasonable compromise," says Lutz.
However, San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre says, "The settlement leaves ratepayers still paying for part of the defective generators; it requires them to pay for the replacement power. [Edison] officials escape any scrutiny, much less accountability, for a risky scheme to employ steam generators they were on notice might fail."
Related: Wednesday’s News Ticker story by Dave Rice