News Release

CALPIRG Testifies In Front Of PUC: Consumers Shouldn’t Pay For Edison’s Mistakes

Over 1,000 Southern California CALPIRG Members Ask PUC To Protect Ratepayers

San Diego, CA –Today, Jon Fox, consumer advocate with the California Public Interest Research Group (CALPIRG), testified at the California Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) public hearing on the ratepayer impact of Southern California Edison’s (SCE) decision to close down the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Fox called on the PUC to order Edison to refund an estimated $1.3 billion they have collected from ratepayers since the plant was shut down. The hearing was also an opportunity for the PUC to hear from the public directly on an issue that impacts 1.4 million households in southern California.[1]

In addition to voicing CALPIRG’s support for ratepayers at the PUC, Fox submited the signatures of over 1,000 local residents who face the threat of higher electricity bills due to the operators’ mismanagement of San Onofre’s steam generator replacement project.

Below is the full text of Fox’s public statement to the PUC in regards to the unreasonable costs of the closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) being passed on to ratepayers:

As you know, San Onofre nuclear power plant was initially shut down in January 2012, while Southern California Edison (SCE) sought to address the premature wear and radioactive leaks in the steam generators installed less than two years prior.

By June 2013, Ted Craver, chairman of Edison’s parent holding company, announced plans to permanently retire the nuclear power plant. Mr. Craver explained their decision by stating that, “SCE has concluded that efforts are better focused on planning for the replacement generation and transmission resources which will be required for grid reliability.”[2] Ron Litzinger, SCE’s President, added that, “We [SCE] think that our decision to retire the units will eliminate uncertainty and facilitate orderly planning for California’s energy future.”[3]

While California consumers pay for reasonable electricity production and transmission costs, CALPIRG is concerned when ratepayers are asked to cover unreasonable costs. Unreasonable costs include paying for Edison’s mishandling of the $768.5 million steam generator replacement project at SONGS[4], its poor decisions during the initial discovery of the radioactive leaks, its bungled attempts to fix the problem and Edison’s ultimate decision to decommission SONGS without ever submitting to public review.

California’s ratepayers played no part in the decision to upgrade the San Onofre nuclear power plant, how to deal with the unsafe steam generators once cracks were discovered, or the verdict to kill the plant for good. California ratepayers should bear no financial liability for SONGS operation costs and attempted repairs since SONGS was shut down in early 2012. Those expenses sit squarely with the plant’s operators and their shareholders. Despite this, an estimated $1.3 billion has been collected from California ratepayers so far by Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.

CALPIRG calls on the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to rule that:

1. Ratepayers not pay any of the estimated $768.5 million spent as part of the steam generator replacement project at SONGS.

2. SONGS operators should cease to charge ratepayers for “operational costs,” capital costs and other revenues associated with the non-operational power plant, and reimburse ratepayers for money collected while SONGS stood idle from January 2012 until present.

The PUC has a duty under Public Utilities Code §451 to ensure that all utility charges are just and reasonable. The aforementioned steps are required to ensure that consumers are protected from unjust and unreasonable rates associated with the early termination of the SONGS. As the PUC’s own Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA) noted, charging ratepayers expenses for a non-operational plant is so clearly unreasonable that failure to remove SONGS costs from rates immediately would be a violation of Section 451.[5]

Thank you for your consideration.

To download a PDF version of CALPIRG’s Fact Sheet: Ratepayer Impact for the Decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, click here.


[1] See CALPIRG Fact Sheet: Ratepayer Impact for the Decommissioning of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant, available on line at: http://calpirg.org/reports/cap/fact-sheet-ratepayer-impact-decommissioning-san-onofre-nuclear-power-plant

[2] Southern California Edison Announces Plans to Retire San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, SCE Press Release, 7 June 2013.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Expenditures for Installation - San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Units 2 & 3 Replacement Steam Generators and Disposal of Original Steam Generators, SCE testimony before the California Public Utilities Commission, March 16, 2013.

[5] Motion to Amend the Scoping Memo & for Summary Disposition to Immediately Remove Specified SONGS Units 2 & 3 Revenue Requirement from Rates, PUC Division of Ratepayer Advocates, 25 June 2013.

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