San Onofre

Southern California Edison argued in a filing with state regulators that a settlement agreement over the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant was fair and reasonable. (Mark Ralston/Getty Images)

Ivan Penn
July 7, 2016

Southern California Edison on Thursday warned that its customers could face higher costs related to the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant if regulators overturn a settlement agreement.

In an 80-page filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, Edison argued that the agreement reached over San Onofre’s closure should stand based on past legal precedent involving other settlement agreements and the normal process of closing power plants.

The utility’s filing was its first detailed response to an order that could lead to full reconsideration of the settlement agreement, which left consumers on the hook for $3.3 billion to permanently close the nuclear plant in 2013.

Edison argued that under the agreement customers were only paying for past investments to build and maintain the nuclear plant — not the mistakes that led to its closure.

Reconsidering the settlement could increase customer payments, the utility said.

“We believe this public process will allow interested parties to review the settlement and confirm for themselves that it should stand,” Ron Nichols, Edison’s president, said in a statement.

Consumer advocates filed their own arguments Thursday in favor of reconsidering the settlement. They argue that Edison should be held responsible for the premature closure of San Onofre in June 2013 after faulty replacement steam generators were installed at the plant.

The advocates, led by San Diego lawyer Michael Aguirre, a former assistant U.S. attorney, also maintain that Edison’s failure to report back-channel communication between Edison representatives and commission representatives about San Onofre’s closure cloud the integrity of the agreement.

“Before the PUC can take any corrective steps on San Onofre, the circle of officials who knew about the secret San Onofre deal … have to step away,” Aguirre said in an interview. He said the “prefabricated agreement” hurts public confidence.

In May, public utilities Commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval and Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey issued the ruling to reopen the case in large part because of the revelations about the unreported talks.

To read expanded article, click here.