State Consumer Advocate To Pull Out Of San Onofre Nuclear Plant Settlement
by Ivan Penn, Los Angeles Times
A multibillion-dollar settlement over the closed San Onofre nuclear power plant took another blow Monday as the state consumer advocate said that he was withdrawing from the deal and would urge regulators to reopen the case.
Joe Como, director of the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, said Monday that he was “very disappointed” by a judge’s ruling Aug. 5 that Edison failed to report communication with regulators about a settlement. Como added that the judge did not go far enough and wrote an opinion that still gives too much latitude for utilities to communicate with regulators outside public view.
“We will pull out of the settlement,” Como said. “We will file papers to that effect as quickly as possible. This cannot stand.”
Como’s office joins the Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco consumer group that reversed its support for settlement and pulled out of the deal in June.
The agreement resolved how the $4.7 billion in costs for shutting down San Onofre would be divided, with Southern California Edison and plant co-owner San Diego Gas & Electric bearing $1.4 billion of the cost and the utilities’ customers paying $3.3 billion.
But now — with two key parties backing out — it could change how much each side will have to pay. This could also lead to renewed investigation into who is at fault for the plant’s faulty steam generators, an issue Edison has largely avoided. One of the generators leaked a small amount of radiation, which ultimately led to the plant’s permanent closure in 2013.