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Public Hearing: Should Ratepayers Continue To Pay For San Onofre?

The public hearing in Costa Mesa is part of an investigation into how much the power companies spent on installing new steam generators at San Onofre, and whether ratepayers should continue to pay for them now they’re off line.

Aired 2/21/13 on KPBS News.

Thursday is the first opportunity for ratepayers to weigh in on the San Onofre nuclear power plant before the California Public Utilities Commission. The plant has been shut down for more than a year. The focus of the public hearing is not safety, but cost.

Southern California Edison shut down the plant more than a year ago after a radiation leak in the steam generator in Unit 3. The plant has not produced any power since then, and a Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigation is ongoing.

Martha Sullivan is with the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre. She is angry the California Public Utilities Commission appears to have postponed considering whether ratepayers deserve refunds.

“Edison and SDG&E ratepayers are on the hook for almost $700 million for these four steam generators that don’t work,” she said, “and they have already had over $200 million collected from them in their electric bills.”

Edison is documenting its costs since installing the steam generators as evidence why ratepayers should continue to be charged.

San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre has filed a motion with the CPUC, saying Edison missed an important legal condition after the PUC granted it permission to spend hundreds of millions on the new generators.

“With regard to the $680 million that Edison was permitted to spend,” Aguirre said, “it was done on condition that, upon completion, in February 2011, Edison would come back to present their case to show that what they had done was reasonable. Edison never did that.“

Aguirre argued the ratepayers should not have been charged at all.

Meanwhile California’s legislative analyst is now calling for an audit of how the CPUC has been managing hundreds of millions of dollars of ratepayer money in accounts set aside for large utility projects.

Mitsubishi Document

In a related development, San Diego Assemblywoman Toni Atkins has sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asking the agency to release to the public an un-redacted copy of a document by Mitsubishi. Mitsubishi manufactured the faulty steam generators for Southern California Edison.

The document was cited by California Senator Barbara Boxer as evidence that Mitsubishi and Edison were aware of the problems with the design of the new equipment, but chose not to apply fixes before installing them.

The NRC initially refused to release the document but said last week it will release a redacted version.

When: Thursday, February 21, 2013, 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. AND 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Where: Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa

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