CPUC judge rules San Onofre settlement talks to go forward

Dive Brief:

  • Talks to renegotiate parts of parts of a 2014 settlement on the rate impacts of closing the San Onofre nuclear plant will move forward, following an administrative law judge's decision that a requested delay was not necessary.
  • The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that last month Southern California Edison asked regulators to delay the talks, scheduled for later this month, pending a separate settlement with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the maker of the plant's failed turbine.
  • Revelations of ex parte communications between utility officials and regulators have sent the parties back to the negotiating table; SCE shuttered the plant about five years ago. The shutdown cost customers $3 billion.

Dive Insight:

Talks to renegotiate some parts of the San Onofre settlement can go ahead, after Administrative Law Judge Darcie Houck wrote that "the utilities have not based their request on any change that would warrant an extension," the news outlet reported. 

SCE and minority plant owner San Diego Gas & Electric requested a delay in December, as the two utilities say they are nearing conclusion of talks with Mitsubishi. The plant was forced to close after radioactive steam leaks were discovered, saddling customers with billions in losses.

But then in December, California regulators directed SCE to renegotiate some parts of the deal on the rate impacts when news surfaced of ex parte communications surrounding the agreement. Regulators say the utility engaged in "eight unreported ex parte communications and ethics violations," leading to penalties that cost SCE shareholders $16.7 million. The case was reopened in May

SCE had previously said it would provide refunds and rate reductions of almost $1.6 billion under the settlement, and possibly more depending on recoveries the Mitsubishi recoveries. According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, a decision is expected within three months, and customers will receive half of any money coming out of arbitration.

Last month, SCE announced that it had completed a 10-month competitive bid process to ultimately select a joint venture of AECOM and EnergySolutions as general contractors on the plant's decommissioninhg.

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