San Onofre

The San Onofre nuclear power plant near San Clemente closed permanently in June 2013, a year and a half after defective steam generators costing $680 million leaked small amounts of radiation. (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles Times)

By Marc Lifsher
September 5, 2014

An agreement on paying for the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant near San Clemente needs to be more favorable to consumers, state regulators said Friday.

As a result, electric utility officials and consumer advocates were told to make major changes in a controversial agreement about who should pay the huge costs associated with last year’s closing and the permanent shutdown of the plant.

Michael Florio, one of five members of the California Public Utilities Commission, announced Friday that a $4.7-billion proposed settlement — hammered out this spring in negotiations among plant operators, consumer groups and PUC staff members — needs big revisions.

If made, the proposed changes would make the settlement better for consumers, Florio said.

“Today’s ruling says that this formula unfairly favors shareholders over consumers and requests a modification,” he said in a statement.

The ruling follows a storm of controversy by PUC critics that unfolded after the proposed settlement was announced in March by Southern California Edison Co. and regulators. It called for ratepayers to pay $3.3 billion and the utilities to cover $1.4 billion.

At issue was whether utilities should pay more for what happened and consumers less. San Onofre closed permanently in June 2013, a year and a half after defective steam generators costing $680 million leaked small amounts of radiation.

Edison and some consumer groups had defended the agreement as fair for all parties. But settlement critics, mainly San Diego and Orange County ratepayer groups, demanded that the PUC make Rosemead-based Edison and its partner, San Diego Gas & Electric Co., pay the bulk of closing costs.

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