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California Utility In Talks Over San Onofre Repair, Inspection Costs

Above: San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

LOS ANGELES — Talks are underway to resolve a costly question at the shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant in California — who pays a bill that could top $3 billion, officials disclosed Friday.

Edison International — the parent company of plant operator Southern California Edison — said in a government filing that a meeting would be held next week to discuss details of a possible deal.

SCE and minority owner San Diego Gas & Electric Co. have been negotiating with consumer advocates over how to divide a long list of costs from repairs and inspections at the now-closed reactors to replacement power once the plant shut down.

At issue has been who should take the hit — company shareholders or ratepayers.

"Our goal is to secure the maximum amount of refunds for customers as soon as possible, and to ensure that utility shareholders bear a significant share of responsibility for the premature shutdown of San Onofre," said Matthew Freedman, lead attorney for the Utility Reform Network, a consumer advocacy group involved in the talks.

"It's been far too long that customers have been paying for mistakes made at that plant," Freedman said.

The twin-domed plant between San Diego and Los Angeles was closed permanently by Edison last year after a long and costly fight over whether it was safe to restart. The plant hadn't produced electricity since January 2012, after a small radiation leak led to the discovery of extensive damage to tubing that carried radioactive water.

The problems at San Onofre centered on steam generators that were installed during a $670 million overhaul in 2009 and 2010. After the plant was shut down, tests found some generator tubes were so badly eroded that they could fail and possibly release radiation, a stunning finding inside the nearly new equipment.

The California Public Utilities Commission has been overseeing a broad investigation into costs at the plant. SCE and the other parties involved in the talks asked an agency judge not to rule on key issues, pending the outcome of the negotiations.

SCE declined comment.

Morningstar analyst Travis Miller said it was critical for Edison to resolve the case, though he emphasized a deal had not been completed.

"No investor likes uncertainty, especially when it's a large number," Miller said.

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 21, 2014 at 4:36 p.m. ― 3 years ago

I've been following this closely and figure the total rebate figure should be around 5 Billion dollars because the real cause of SCE's Multi-Billion Dollar debacle was their using high burnup fuel which caused the steam generators to fail much sooner than planned! This "early" replacement has cost ratepayers easily about 5 Billion Dollars when you figure in all the lost energy that could have been generated, all the new components that cost over 2 Billion Dollars and the decommissioning fees that have not yet been collected, since San Onofre was decommissioned "early".

Add to the above the fact that the CPUC has not only OK'd SDG&E spending 1.6 Billion Dollars for a new Gas Fired Peaker Plant in Pio Pico but has also OK"d rate increases which will allow both SCE and SDG&E to "recover" most of what they will have to rebate ratepayers!

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 21, 2014 at 4:38 p.m. ― 3 years ago

More on the CPUC's Pro Utility Decisions here:

Since the CPUC can and as this article points out, continues to penalize those that speak out against its actions, is it any wonder that most attorneys simply will not take CPUC Utility related cases, which is exactly what both the CPUC and our Big Utilities want to prevent!

In case after case these Big Utilities might possibly get a wrist slapped while at the same time, if not before, also get a rate increase that more than makes up for any penalty the CPUC may give them.

Case in point, San Onofre's multi-Billion dollar replacement steam generator debacle resulted in an ongoing investigation that Edison and its minor partner SDG&E wants to end ASAP, yet the CPUC has recently just given them the OK for yet another rate increase worth over a Billion dollars! It is decisions like this that have resulted in SoCal having some of the highest priced Energy in the USA despite having some of the best weather in the USA, which is shame for everyone except Utility shareholders!

These Utilities wield so much influence that most of our MSM will not even present news stories that are not favorable to these Big Utilities that donate heavily to all candidates and charities, so that they can count on their public support should anything come before the CPUC This was evident when San Onofre got shut down and all those receiving support from the two Big Utilities, lined up to say publicly how much they and all their supporters needed San Onofre to be restarted since they wanted to stay in business; which as we all know today was just a bunch of Nuclear Baloney* (NB) and Nuclear Payback** talking.

What phoboggers try and use to sidestep the reality of all the problems surrounding Nuclear Reactors; (like Safety, Fallout and the harmful effects of all kinds of radioactive particles) usually because of their connection to the Nuclear Industry!


Those that support nuclear power because nuclear power somehow supports them; no matter what the health implications or other "costs" are for others.

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 21, 2014 at 4:41 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Sent to the CPUC in December 2013:

San Onofre's multi-billion dollar replacement steam generator debacle must be completely paid for by the utilities that caused it.

You cannot in good conscience support transferring ANY portion of it to ratepayers, so there should be NO BAILOUT FOR SCE/SDG&E.

The CPUC is charged with insuring equal treatment of BOTH ratepayers and the Utilities that serve them. It is painfully obvious that the ratepayers have been stuck with borderline criminally unsafe Utility decisions that have resulted in the early decommissioning of San Onofre, which will result in Billions of dollars of decommissioning costs that have not yet been collected, the cost of which must be borne by the Utility, since they not the ratepayers made these poor financial decisions without any input from ratepayers who have no oversight...

This is your chance as the CPUC to not only stand up for all ratepayers, but to send a strong message to our Utilities statewide, that they must think first about operational safety and the long term benefits to their ratepayers, instead of just their own Corporate profits!

Southern California ratepayers are counting on you to START doing as much for us as you have been doing for both SCE and SDG&E's shareholders. You have allowed rate increase after rate increase, resulting in our energy rates being some of the highest in the USA, despite us having some of the best weather in the USA, now it is time for you to protect us from Billions of dollars of unfair expenses!

I urge you to take a strong stand, by insuring that a full open and complete investigation into San Onofre continues and at the same time order the first of what will surly be a number of utility refunds be issued immediately. You should at the same time also order our Utilities to increase the qualification levels of CARE by at least 35%, since they are now far too low! It is outrageous that our economy is now so bad, yet you, the CPUC, continue to vote to allow rate increase after increase, which only benefits Utility shareholders and penalizes ratepayers! As it is now, the continued advertising of "Do you qualify for a reduced bill payment" by our public Utilities is only being used as another way to make the Utility "look good" while in reality helping very few ratepayers! All Utility monies, that ratepayers have to reimburse, should not be allowed to be used for Corporate PR advertising guised as "education", in fact, an equal percentage of all "education" and/or "outreach" funds should be shifted to watchdog groups like CDSO, since the Utility should not get to self promote, especially on the public's dime...

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 21, 2014 at 5:28 p.m. ― 3 years ago

With Billions in refunds, why are all the local MSM outlets N☢T HOT on this story?

Speaking of MSM, why is this story not a top News story on all of San Diego's TV stations and printed above the fold, in the Union Tribune?

Could it be because SCE and SDG&E are both major donors and BIG Corporations that have key ties with all of SoCal's decision makers?

It is no accident that this story is posted on Friday, but I call upon San Diego's KPBS to promote this story by airing interviews from all the locals that are also involved with what is happening at San Onofre, instead of "laying low" and allowing this AP story to provide all the coverage of this Multi-Billion Dollar Debacle!

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Avatar for user 'PiaJensen'

PiaJensen | March 21, 2014 at 5:49 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Given the history of utility scams perpetrated against California rate payers, it behooves the CPUC and California Gov, Jerry Brown, to see that All meetings are properly noticed and special invites go to stakeholder organizations and journalists so rate payers are given the opportunity to ensure they are not yet again ripped off royally due to proper oversight and care by agencies and politicians involved in protecting rate payers.

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Avatar for user 'PiaJensen'

PiaJensen | March 21, 2014 at 5:51 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Correction: Lack of proper oversight and care, I meant.

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 22, 2014 at 8:03 a.m. ― 3 years ago

I urge KPBS to post a listing of exactly who is participating in these "TALKS", since that information itself will be revealing! If every group that has taken part in the CPUC investigation is not represented, then it is time to call the CPUC's Judge to task.

Each group should have a voice in any "settlement" discussion before the CPUC Judge considers ending this on-going investigation into the "reasonableness" of what happened at San Onofre! To do otherwise will only invite these same groups and/or others, to appeal the CPUC decision(s) in the CA Courts, because literally, there are Billions of dollars of ratepayer money at stake.

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 22, 2014 at 8:18 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Adding to the other comments is the frustration caused by the ongoing delay in the CPUC's own investigation into the operation of San Onofre. By NOT demanding that SCE make public any and all documentation relating to the design, construction and operation of SCE's in-housed designed replacement steam generators, outside experts cannot determine the "reasonableness" of what SCE did.

This is THE key factor in determining how much the CPUC will determine that SoCal ratepayers are due in refunds for this multiple billion dollar public utility debacle which will amount to somewhere between 1 and 10 Billion dollars if the investigation is provided fair access! The CPUC must allow access to documentation and not continue to shield SCE's actions from public scrutiny if ratepayers are ever to learn the truth!

Unless the CPUC changes it Pro Utility stance, SoCal ratepayers not Utility shareholders will be forced to pay for SCE's in-house engineering debacle for decades to come!

As of now, we have paid and/or are still paying about*:

- $60 million (PER MONTH) for ongoing expenses and getting zero energy for it

- $750 million for the replacement steam generators that were dangerous

- $300 million for new turbines

- $200 million for new reactor heads

- $500 million of decommissioning shortfall, estimated...

- $1,500 million for 5+ decades of nuclear waste on-site storage costs

*NOTE: This is only a partial listing and I believe it is on the LOW side...

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 22, 2014 at 8:26 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Californian's deserve to know exactly who at SCE was responsible for their decisions to use unproven radical designed Replacement Steam Generators (RSG’s) at San Onofre, that not only failed so quickly after being put into service but leaked radioactivity into the air we breathe, which put everyone in southern California at risk!

Because of this SCE Corporate engineering debacle*, recently laid off employees, present employees soon to be laid off and all the ratepayers are now suffering while those that are responsible are simply going to change their retirement packages and/or enjoy their golden parachutes; they are the only ones that should be held responsible! The US Government, the NRC, the CPUC and the State of California Attorney General must complete all of their investigations into San Onofre, so that those that are responsible can be identified and we all receive the maximum financial relief possible from them. SCE, SDG&E, the CPUC and MHI must be instructed ASAP not to shred any documents relating to San Onofre; the public will not accept a San Onofre Gate cover up. No longer can SCE or MHI claim that they must restrict any "proprietary information" on any company documents relating to San Onofre since they are now going to be decommissioning it, along with its new unsafe Replacement Steam Generators that contain so many major design flaws. In hindsight, Southern California had a nuclear near miss on 01/31/12 and if we were not just plain lucky we could have suffered a nuclear accident just like Fukushima, because of the dangerous Replacement Steam Generators that were in use at San Onofre.

We now also have another major problem, which is to determine where both our Federal and State Regulatory Systems of checks and balances failed, in order to make sure that something like this never happens again because the USA cannot afford a trillion dollar Eco-disaster. To do that, it is vital that we insure that all the investigations mentioned above are done publicly and not behind closed doors so that all of us can better understand exactly how San Onofre's debacle occurred, the names of those that are responsible for it and exactly who we should hold responsible for the restitution of all our financial losses.

*San Onofre will be remembered as both a Nuclear Near Miss (NNM), and as an engineering debacle of epic proportions like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

First posted Oct. 2013

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | March 22, 2014 at 8:27 a.m. ― 3 years ago

seems the puc is controlled by the energy companies.

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 22, 2014 at 9:33 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Mmikey - They would of course claim otherwise, but that claim would be tough to prove if someone was able to list all the CPUC decisions that have been made, since by far the majority have been in the Utilities favor!

Example: Asking for a big rate increase and ending up with the CPUC approving a smaller increase is still a win for the Utilities since they are going to generate (pun intended) more income!

Another way of looking at the relationship between the CPUC and the Utilities they Regulate is to see what these Utilities have been generating (pun still intended) in profits; since they typically have been making record profits while ratepayers have been paying some of the highest rates in the USA tells me that the CPUC is far to cozy with the Utilities they regulate!

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 22, 2014 at 2:08 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Since SCE's own documents were used to "prove" that what they were telling everyone including the NRC, the CPUC and the Public was not factual! Just like those that try and erase their Computers to hide their emails and later get caught lying, SCE should have known better since they had given out copies of all of these documents.

A completely different viewpoint is that by claiming one thing and later to be "proven" making false statements, SCE may have actually delayed any bad PR which could have cost SCE more, since it remains to be seen if they will even get their wrist slapped by the CPUC or the NRC for making misleading statements! This raises a troubling question which is, Why should Big Utilities tell the truth when they can usually come out far better by only issuing prepared PR statements, since they usually are accepted as factual by the public? A perfect example of this is illustrated by the San Onofre Debacle, in which the southern California MSM is for the most part, not even carrying the story!

Excerpts posted:

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 23, 2014 at 11:45 a.m. ― 3 years ago

Excess Power with and without Nuclear - Chart:

NOTE: The CPUC has not updated this chart to reflect San Onofre being decommissioned, which is unacceptable since it tend to make nuclear generation an important part of California's energy supply when the opposite is now true!

I can't wait to see their revised chart showing that San Onofre is being decommissioned and will be producing ZERO energy from Nuclear...

Hopefully they will also include a row that illustrates Diablo at 0% (and also being decommissioned), because that should happen due to faulty (pun intended) earth quake studies which under estimate Diablo Claimed Safety...

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 24, 2014 at 12:48 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Message to the CEP from San Clemente Green... Part 1

Edison needs to fill their credibility gap with actions - not words.

A long history of putting profit before safety eventually led to the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Trying to cut corners actually cost Edison a lot more in the long run. They are now under congressional investigation to determine if they knowingly put the public at risk by installing new steam generators that were problematic since the initial design phase. Donna Gilmore of reminds us that, "The NRC concluded Edison was at fault in the management of the steam generator design. How can we trust them to manage the waste?" After the radiation leak occurred, Edison pushed hard against public opposition to experimentally restart a defective nuclear reactor without even fixing it first. Now they promise "to complete the safe decommissioning of SONGS as expeditiously and cost efficiently as possible". Are we to believe they are going to act in the public's best interest or does this promise only apply to their shareholders? Their actions will speak much louder than words.

Our first priority: Secure the nuclear waste on site before the next big, inevitable earthquake takes place.

According to the USGS, it is nearly certain that the much anticipated earthquake will exceed design limitations at SONGS and that it will likely take place before nuclear waste can be shipped elsewhere.

Our biggest concern: A decade ago, San Onofre was allowed to use High Burnup Fuel so that costly refueling could occur less frequently.

High burnup fuel is over twice as radioactive and takes much longer to cool in the spent fuel pools. There is no approved method to safely store high burnup fuel in dry casks for more than 20 years. In less than 10 years some of those dry casks will have reached their approved safe lifespan. If the fuel has deteriorated to the point of becoming too dangerous to transport then it may have to remain on site indefinitely in that unstable condition. For that reason alone, we are requesting the Community Engagement Panel to schedule their first workshop to include independent nuclear experts who can recommend best practices in addressing the unknowns about high burnup fuel.

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Avatar for user 'CaptD'

CaptD | March 24, 2014 at 12:49 p.m. ― 3 years ago

Part 2

Our list of recommendations:

Establish better ways to safely store and transport nuclear waste, especially high burnup fuel, to an acceptable remote location as soon as one is available.

Improve instrumentation capabilities to monitor spent fuel pools and dry cask storage.

Add one more layer of protection to dry cask storage by "canning" spent fuel assemblies in individual sub-containers, handling all waste as if it will become damaged by excessive heat and radiation over time.

Reduce the number of spent fuel assemblies from 24 units per cask instead of seeking to increase it to 32 units for the sole purpose of saving money.

Transfer adequately cooled fuel assemblies to dry cask storage immediately to free up overcrowded conditions in spent fuel pools, making them more secure.
Reinforce structures that protect all forms of waste and develop unmanned systems to respond to any radiological emergency.

Provide on-site capabilities to handle a leaking cask should there be a breach in containment.

Make public announcements before the release of tons of pollutants into the ocean which is currently allowed as part of the decontamination process.

Invest in emergency preparedness capabilities for our communities that can endure weeks of isolation, not just a few days.

The overarching message from our community to Edison is:

When in doubt, use the precautionary principle.

Always error on the side of public safety over profit.

*Go to for other carefully referenced technical resources.

San Clemente Green

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