Shareholders May Absorb $1.1 Billion in San Onofre Costs : Auditors Revise Opinions on 2 Utilities

Times Staff Writer

Auditors for San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison have issued revised opinions on the utilities’ 1984 financial statements, citing a Public Utilities Commission report that might force shareholders to absorb as much as $1.1 billion in disputed construction costs for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

If the utilities are forced to absorb the disputed costs, the charges probably would be deducted from the utilities’ profits during 1986, a PUC spokesman said.

The auditing firm of Deloitte, Haskins & Sells on Monday reissued its 1984 opinion for SDG&E; following a Nov. 1 PUC staff report that suggested that the utility’s shareholders absorb $225 million in construction costs associated with Units 2 and 3 at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.


Arthur Andersen & Co. had earlier reissued an opinion because the PUC staff report suggested that Southern California Edison’s shareholders absorb $840 million in disputed construction costs.

Both reports were qualified, meaning that the auditors are unsure of the state of the companies’ finances in view of the potential liabilities.

The $1.1-billion figure was suggested by the PUC public staff section, which acts as the consumer’s representative during the rate-making process. PUC commissioners will vote on “the reasonableness of construction costs” at the two San Onofre generating units following hearings that begin next month in San Francisco. That vote will not take place until late in 1986, a PUC spokesman said.

SDG&E; owns about 20% of the two nuclear generating units, and Southern California Edison owns about 75%.

The totals cited by the PUC staff report are likely to change early next month when the public staff division issues yet another report on the reasonableness of construction costs at San Onofre.

A Southern California Edison spokesman called the $840-million figure “ludicrous” and predicted that the utility would not be forced to take the write-down.


At SDG&E;, the impact on the bottom line would be “significant” if the utility were forced to write down the entire $225-million amount, acknowledged Vice President and Controller Bob Parsley, who added that the utility does not yet know how much--if any--it will be forced to write down.