August 8, 2015
Why don’t our elected officials or the media care?
The shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generation plant permanently eliminated over 2000 Megawatts of electrical power from California’s electricity supplies. This is approximately 20 percent of Southern California’s total electrical energy supply.
San Onofre, located just South of the city of San Clemente at the northern edge of Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base, was the largest single provider of electrical power operating in Southern California providing reliable, clean energy to customers of Edison, San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) and, interestingly enough the City of Riverside’s Municipal Electric Utility.
Originally opened in 1968, San Onofre expanded in 1982 with the addition of two new generation units. However, the plant was temporarily shut down in January 2012 due to premature wear in steam generators installed in 2010. Edison publicly announced that it would make efforts to repair SONGS. It was, after all, 20 percent of our power supplies and was almost fully depreciated and paid for by Southern California electrical customers.
Additionally, San Onofre was the largest provider of non-carbon emitting power on the grid.
This is where things get strange. On June 7, 2013, Edison made a surprise announcement that it would permanently close San Onofre. More disconcerting, was that the Public Utilities Commission quickly approved the proposal.
Now, according to a few news reports and court filings, it has been revealed that Edison held clandestine meetings between its executives and Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey (also a former President of Edison) on shutting down San Onofre and, more important to electricity customers, how to divide the cost of the $4.7 billion decommissioning.
Under the agreement negotiated in closed door discussions, electricity customers who had already paid for the power plant would be responsible for $3.3 billion of the $4.7 billion to shut the plant! Investigators obtained warrants and obtained information including emails between Edison and PUC President Peevey, and even the napkin that the original deal was first written on in a meeting between an Edison executive and Peevey that took place in, of all places, a hotel in Warsaw, Poland. No, we aren’t making this up.
An Administrative Law Judge on Wednesday issued a ruling asking Edison why it should not pay a $34 million fine for unlawful communications between Edison and its regulator, the Public Utilities Commission.
To read expanded column, click here.