By Eric Heinz

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ordered the entities involved with a San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) settlement to “consider modifications” to payments regarding the decommissioning of the nuclear power plant.

A new agreement between the Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA), The Utility Reform Network (TURN) and Southern California Edison (SCE) would have customers (ratepayers) paying $3.3 billion in decommissioning costs over 10 years as opposed to the initial proposal of $4.7 billion over that timeframe.

A settlement was first reached amongst the entities involved in 2012 following the failure of a steam generator at SONGS, which led to the closing of the plant. But the settlement was reopened May 9 this year after what the CPUC deemed were unethical conversations between officials from SONGS and former president of the CPUC Mike Peevey in 2014 that decided the rates at which customers of the utilities would pay for decommissioning. CPUC fined Southern California Edison—the majority stakeholder and operator of SONGS—$16.7 million for those communications violations.

A statement from SCE on Tuesday night stated the utility provider was “disappointed” with the recent ruling from CPUC.

“The settlement of the San Onofre nuclear plant shutdown protects customer interests by requiring investors to pay for the replacement steam generators that prompted the closure of San Onofre in June 2013 from the point that they failed,” the statement from SCE said. “SCE has provided or will provide refunds and rate reductions of almost $1.6 billion under the settlement, and this amount may be increased by recoveries from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the supplier of the defective steam generators.”

SCE is currently pursuing litigation against Mitsubishi for the failure of the steam generators.

“Any and all ex parte communications with any decision-maker or Commissioner Advisor regarding all issues in this proceeding including procedural matters continue to be prohibited,” the report from CPUC stated.

The decision orders the interested parties to file their amendments to the agreement by April 28, 2017. If they can’t reach an agreement by then, the parties will have to submit a summary of their proposals to the CPUC to outline the steps going forward.

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