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Who Should Pay For San Onofre?

Aired 10/1/13 on KPBS News.

The California Public Utilities Commission is holding two public hearings Tuesday to help decide who will bear the costs of the defunct San Onofre nuclear power plant.

The California Public Utilities Commission is holding two public hearings Tuesday to help decide who will bear the costs of the defunct San Onofre nuclear power plant.

The hearings come days after federal regulators found that Edison and its contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries were to blame for design flaws that resulted in the permanent closure of San Onofre. Edison shut down the plant in June because of excessive tube wear in its new steam generators.

It’s against this backdrop that Mindy Spatt of the consumer group — The Utility Reform Network — said Edison and SDG&E are obligated to remove San Onofre’s $54 million monthly costs from customer bills. State regulators won’t force the issue, she said, unless customers turn into squeaky wheels.

“Utility law requires that utility companies pay for their own mistakes," Spatt said. "Now is the time for customers to stand up for themselves and say we’re not going to continue to have our monthly bills go up in order to cover mistakes made by Edison and SDG&E.”

Southern California Edison spokeswoman Maureen Brown said the company is trying to recover some of its costs for San Onofre from Mitsubishi. The company has also asked state regulators to reduce the rate of return for investors who put capital into building the plant. But the company also believes that customers should not get a break on their bills even though San Onofre is closed.

“It’s important to note that our customers have benefited from over four decades of affordable emission-free electricity as a result of San Onofre," Brown said.

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