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Customers still waiting for Edison refund decision

December 31, 2013|By Bryce Alderton

Residents of Laguna Beach and other California cities must wait until at least mid-January to find out if they will receive refunds from two utility companies because of decisions made related to the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, including the purchase of replacement power.

The California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees the state's utility companies, pushed back a public hearing and vote to Jan. 16, commission spokesman Christopher Chow wrote in an email.

The vote had been scheduled for the Dec. 19 meeting, but members of the commission requested more time to review the matter, according to Chow.

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Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric may owe close to $94 million collectively to their customers: Edison, which owns 78% of the station, would be responsible for $74.2 million, while SDG&E, a 20% owner, would owe $19.3 million, according to a preliminary commission decision made public in November.

The proposed decision, from administrative law judges Melanie Darling and Kevin Dudney, would require refunds for Edison and SDG&E customers as a result of reduced operating costs in 2012 following a steam generator tube leak in Unit 3 on Jan. 31, 2012, a news release said.

Darling and Dudney claim that Edison's continuing to spend money on a restart plan for San Onofre after May 2012 was an unsound decision, primarily because Edison did not consider alternatives or the effect on rates, and it did not realistically assess the regulatory hurdles blocking a reasonably foreseeable restart, the release said.

"The proposed decision issued is the first in a series that evaluates costs to ensure customers don't pay for both the power plant that was shut down and the power that had to be purchased to replace it," Mike Florio, the lead commissioner for the San Onofre investigation, said in a prepared statement. "The CPUC is considering hundreds of millions of dollars in additional refunds to customers resulting from replacement power costs, steam generator replacement costs and removing San Onofre from rate base."

Edison serves about 12,300 residents and businesses in Laguna — the city's population is around 23,000 — while SDG&E has 122,000 customers in south Orange County, though it's unclear how many of those customers live in Laguna Beach.

Edison officials contest the proposed refunds and were "disappointed" with the judge's preliminary decision, according to a company news release.

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