The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has rejected a request by Southern California Edison (SCE) to delay negotiations with consumer advocates to re-assign $4.7 billion in premature closure costs of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).
In a joint letter last month, Southern California Edison and minority owner San Diego Gas & Electric Co. asked to put off settlement talks because they expect a resolution to a years-old arbitration case against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which built the generator that caused the 2012 plant failure. State utility regulators said there is no reason to put off the discussions, which under a December commission order must begin later this month.
“The motion to extend the dates for the all-party meet-and-confers is denied, as the utilities have not based their request on any change that would warrant an extension,” Administrative Law Judge Darcie Houck wrote.
The commission last month ordered settlement talks to begin in January. Regulators last year decided to reopen their 2014 approval of a deal to assign 70 percent of the closure costs to ratepayers rather than company shareholders.
The initial deal was criticized as unfair to Edison and SDG&E customers after The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that a framework for the deal was set at an undisclosed meeting in Warsaw, Poland, in 2013 between the commission president and a utility executive.
The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was shut down in 2012, less than a year after newly installed Mitsubishi steam generators leaked radiation.
The plant was closed permanently in 2013 and Edison sued Mitsubishi. The contract between Mitsubishi and Edison limited damages to $138 million, but the utility reportedly is seeking as much as $7 billion.
A decision is expected by the end of March. Under terms of the initial agreement, ratepayers will recover 50 percent of whatever money is collected in arbitration.
Edison and SDG&E argued that the new round of settlement talks should be put off until the Mitsubishi case is resolved because the recovery could affect negotiations. (San Diego Union Tribune, Jan 12, 2017)