Public airs San Onofre power plant grievances at CPUC hearing

Public airs San Onofre power plant grievances at CPUC hearing
Del Mar City Councilmember Don Mosier implored CPUC representatives not to let SDG&E charge ratepayers with the costs of the inoperative SONGS at the Oct. 1 public hearing. Photo by Rachel Stine

REGION — San Diego County residents urged the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) not charge ratepayers for the decommissioning of SONGS (San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station) at a public hearing on Oct. 1. 

“The theme that you’re hearing today is very clear: Why should ratepayers pay for Southern California Edison’s mistake?” said one Encinitas resident. “Please do not let us continue paying for this, and give us a refund.”

Members of the public addressed CPUC Commissioner Mike Florio and Administrative Law judge Kevin Dudney during the SONGS investigation hearing, which was held during an afternoon session and an evening session at the Al Bahr Shriners Building in Kearney Mesa.

The public hearing is one part of the CPUC’s multi-phase investigation into the outages of Units 2 and 3 at SONGS. During the current phase, the CPUC is considering removing the costs of non-useful assets at SONGS from the rate base of utility payers.

Southern California Edison, the operator and primary owner of SONGS, announced its plans to permanently close the plant this June. SONGS has been shut down since a reactor coolant leak occurred in the units’ steam generators on Jan. 31, 2012.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is currently working to oversee the decommissioning of the station.

Later this month, the CPUC will consider whether to grant a $69.4 million reimbursement to SDG&E for replacement power bought while SONGS halted operation.

SDG&E aims to recover its $808 million investment in SONGS from rates, according to a statement from the utility company.

“The CPUC typically has allowed utilities to recover their sunk costs in power plants that have been taken out of service,” the statement said.

About 50 people attended the afternoon hearing, many holding neon green signs displaying, “You Break It, You Buy It.”

Several government officials spoke at the meeting as well, joining the call to not burden ratepayers with the bill of the dilapidated plant.

“I find it outrageous that SDG&E still wants to make a profit on this failed investment,” said San Diego mayoral candidate Bruce Coons.

A statement read on behalf of Senator Marty Block said, “While the easy fix may be to pass this cost onto ratepayers, I strongly urge against any attempts to turn ratepayers into an ATM.”

 

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