Proposed settlement over San Onofre plant closure is revised

Revised San Onofre settlement proposal still leaves ratepayers footing most of the bill for the plant closure

SACRAMENTO — State regulators have proposed a revised plan for sharing the initial costs of closing the San Onofre nuclear power plant that still largely leaves ratepayers with the bulk of the $4.7-billion bill.

The proposed settlement unveiled Thursday addresses complaints from consumer groups by giving ratepayers a bigger share of future payouts of insurance claims and lawsuits related to the shutdown.

The five-member Public Utilities Commission has scheduled a Nov. 20 vote on the revised deal. San Onofre was permanently closed in June 2013, a year and a half after defective steam generators costing $680 million leaked small amounts of radiation.

This is among the first of many legal proceedings over who should pay for the shutdown as well as the enormous costs ahead to decommission and deactivate the plant.

The proposed revision, written by administrative law judges and endorsed by the plant's owners, Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co., mostly mirrors a March settlement agreement with some environmental and consumer advocates.

Both the earlier proposed agreement and the one released Thursday would cost ratepayers approximately $3.3 billion over 10 years, while the power companies' stockholders would be on the hook for about $1.4 billion.

"It's the same bottom line," said Matthew Freedman, a lawyer for the Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco consumer group that participated in the settlement negotiations.

Critics of both proposals, led by San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre, called the deal "a travesty of justice ... more rigging of the system."

The proposed settlement, Aguirre said, failed to call for an investigation by the PUC into alleged irresponsible behavior by Edison in purchasing and installing defective generators that use heat from the nuclear reactor to power turbines that make electricity.

Twitter: @MarcLifsher

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