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Edison To ‘Participate Fully’ In Reopening Of San Onofre Settlement

Photo caption:

Photo by Ed Joyce

Edison workers unpack one of two new reactor vessel heads at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Monday, Dec. 13, 2010.

Southern California Edison announced Tuesday that it will "participate fully" in a process set up by the California Public Utilities Commission to reconsider a settlement that apportioned financial responsibilities for the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County.

The CPUC reopened the settlement Monday and established filing dates for parties to comment.

The settlement was reached two years ago between the utilities that own the nuclear plant and ratepayer advocates, but it was criticized when it was learned that conversations between then-CPUC Commissioner Michael Peevey and executives of Edison, the facility's operator and majority owner, went undisclosed.

The CPUC fined Edison $16.7 million late last year despite denials by the Rosemead-based utility that violations occurred.

The two ratepayer groups that had signed onto the deal, The Utility Reform Network and Office of Ratepayer Advocates, a state agency — both called for the deal to be overturned last summer.

The utility issued a statement saying that Edison "continues to strongly believe that the settlement, reached among owners SCE and San Diego Gas & Electric, and consumer, environmental and labor advocates, remains fair, lawful and in the public interest."

"SCE has already made significant refunds to customers under the San Onofre settlement," the statement said. "A portion of these refunds is reflected in an 8 percent average rate reduction announced for this year, which also incorporates the impacts of SCE's ongoing commitment to cost containment."

The utility said it looks forward to the opportunity to present facts that support the fairness of the settlement.

The nuclear plant on the northern San Diego County coastline hasn't operated since a small, non-injury leak occurred in one of its two reactors in January 2012. An investigation fixed blame on improperly designed steam generators manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan.

Edison later decided to retire the reactors rather than pursue a costly restart process. The settlement was subsequently reached to apportion various shutdown costs between the utilities and ratepayers.

The CPUC called for Edison to file a summary of the agreement and a status report on implementation; and to specify and quantify accounting and rate-making actions taken so far, and planned actions for this and future years, by June 2.

The parties have until July 7 to file briefs on whether the deal meets CPUC standards for approving settlements.

Two weeks later, the parties can file responses and procedural recommendations.

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