Rob Nikolewski
December 14, 2016

In a ruling made just before the close of business hours Tuesday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) directed Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to meet with groups critical of a 2014 agreement that calls on utility ratepayers to shoulder about 70 percent of the costs from shutting down the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The directive orders the two utilities to “carefully consider” any modifications that would allow greater relief for ratepayers.

“The CPUC must ensure the integrity of its processes and that its decisions serve the public interest,” said CPUC commissioner Catherine J.K. Sandoval in a statement.

The ruling orders SDG&E and Southern California Edison to meet with representatives of the Office for Ratepayers Advocates and The Utility Reform Network, who have urged modifications to the $4.7 billion settlement from two years ago.

The CPUC directive also calls on Edison and SDG&E to consider an assessment of the agreement by the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, a San Luis Obispo-based activist group opposed to nuclear power.

Southern California Edison is the majority owner of the plant and oversees its operations. San Diego Gas & Electric, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, owns 20 percent.

“We have just received notification of the ruling and have not yet had a chance to review it to provide further comment,” SDG&E communications director Christy Ihrig said in an email to the Union-Tribune.

In a statement released late Tuesday night, Southern California Edison defended the 2014 agreement and said it was “disappointed” in the ruling but said it will follow its directives.

“The settlement of the San Onofre nuclear plant shutdown protects customer interests by requiring investors to pay for the replacement steam generators that prompted the closure of San Onofre in June 2013 from the point that they failed,” the statement said.

“SCE has provided or will provide refunds and rate reductions of almost $1.6 billion under the settlement, and this amount may be increased by recoveries from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the supplier of the defective steam generators.”

The statement went on to say the original settlement reduced the amount residential customers pay in their monthly bill for past investments to build and maintain SONGS.

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