San Onofre

A proposed settlement over the San Onofre nuclear plant would initially apportion the costs so that $3.3 billion would be covered by ratepayers and $1.4 billion by utility shareholders. Above, the plant at dusk in March. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Marc Lifsher
May 9, 2014

Heated battles over who pays for last year’s permanent closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant — and how much — are just getting started. Even some consumer groups are already at odds with each other.

Experts peg the immediate cost at $4.7 billion to pay for utility investments, replacement power and ongoing maintenance relating to the early shutdown of two reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

A proposed settlement would initially apportion the costs so that $3.3 billion would be covered by ratepayers and $1.4 billion by utility shareholders.

In coming years, an additional $4 billion-plus will be needed to remove radioactive materials and demolish the plant safely.

Ultimately, it will be up to the California Public Utilities Commission and possibly the courts to decide who pays which final bills.

In the meantime, battles are underway among utilities, ratepayers, equipment makers, consumer groups and insurance companies. And the current deep disagreements could be just the beginning of protracted legal combat.

“The prognosis for a rapid resolution of the San Onofre decommissioning is not good,” said Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at UC Santa Cruz. “It’s an extraordinarily long and remarkably difficult undertaking to have ahead.” Hirsch is also a longtime anti-nuclear-power activist.

To read entire story, click here.