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Roundtable: Edison-Mitsubishi Fight; Stadium Financing; Formidable Drug Prices


San Onofre Blame Game; Stadium Financing, Drug Pricing


Mark Sauer


Amita Sharma, KPBS News

Liam Dillon, Voice of San Diego

David Wagner, KPBS News


SoCal Edison vs. Mitsubishi

Southern California Edison, majority owner of the San Onofre Nuclear power plant, has filed an arbitration claim against Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for $7.6 billion.

The dispute is over the failure of the steam generators, which caused the plant to cease operation. Wear on the generators’ tubes caused a radioactive leak and subsequent plant shutdown in 2012, after just one year of use.

Edison has promised to share with its customers half the proceeds from any arbitration award against Mitsubishi; SDG&E ratepayers would also benefit since the San Diego utility is a minority owner of the San Onofre plant. This would be a relief since ratepayers are on the hook for some $10 billion at this point.

But relief is unlikely.

Because Edison oversaw the design of the generators Mitsubishi manufactured, and because documents reveal Edison executives worried about potential design flaws and “tube wear” as early as 2004, some find the promised reimbursements complete fantasy.

Meanwhile, the settlement deal between Edison, SDG&E and the state Public Utilities Commission over the plant's closure and clean-up continues its own slow meltdown.

Shiny new stadium financing plan

San Diego city and county would pay a combined $350 million – or about one-third of the construction cost - for a new stadium in Mission Valley, according to a financing plan presented to the public this week by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The city's cost of $200 million toward construction works out to be $13 million per year for 30 years. San Diegans would vote on the plan in January 2016.

San Diego County will be responsible for $150 million from its general fund, while the plan has the NFL and the Chargers responsible for the remaining $700 million.

The city already pays $14.1 million annually for upkeep and operation of Qualcomm, so city spending drops a bit as the Chargers take on stadium operation and maintenance, a part of the deal that is not likely to thrill them.

There are flies in this ointment, however. Even if all sides agree to this plan, San Diego is still on the hook for $4.8 million a year through 2027 for the last Qualcomm renovation. Which means the city's total bill rises to $18 million a year for 10 years.

For a football stadium.

Drug cost is a killer

Vertex, a pharmaceutical giant with a research arm in San Diego, has come up with a drug that treats cystic fibrosis, an uncommon disease that often kills patients by their 40s.

This should be great news for sufferers — but not if your insurance carrier won’t pay for the drug, which costs $259,000 a year. Patients must take it for the rest of their lives.

Another drug, Sovaldi, from Gilead, actually cures the far more common Hepatitis C after 12 weeks. Solvadi's sticker price is $84,000, which predictably caused an uproar among insurance companies and patients.

There are battle lines forming around new cholesterol-lowering drugs and around rapidly increasing costs for cancer drugs. Six states are considering legislation to have drug companies justify their prices and reveal their development costs.

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