An advocacy group is calling for a reduction in what San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison customers are being charged because they have continued to pay to support the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station even though it has been shuttered since January.
In a letter, Joseph P. Como, acting director of the Public Utilities Commission's Division of Ratepayer Advocates, asked the panel to cut the bills immediately "instead of waiting several more months and allowing hundreds of millions of dollars in needless costs to be borne by the ratepayers," the Los Angeles Times reported.
About $650 million a year is spent on operations and maintenance at the plant, according to the newspaper.
In November, when the plant will have been out of service for nine months, state law will trigger an investigation in which the commission must consider lowering rates. The investigation could eventually result in refunding money to customers so they would not pay the costs of a plant that is producing no power, according to the Times.
San Onofre's two active reactors were both shut down in January. One was shut down for planned repairs while the other was shut down abruptly when on Jan. 31, a faulty piece of equipment leaked a small amount of radioactive steam into the environment. The incident led to the discovery that many more tubes were wearing out more quickly than expected.
SDG&E spokeswoman Stephanie Donovan told the Times that the utility feels the ratepayer advocate is "jumping the gun a bit."
"There are existing procedures that could address the same issues," she said.
There are no official scheduled restart dates for the plant, which is situated near the San Diego-Orange County line. Last month, Edison reported one reactor unit would remain out of service until at least November and the other until at least December. Edison has since retracted the statement, saying it could be even longer.
-City News Service