CPUC Judge Agrees With TURN: PG&E’s Decommissioning Costs for Diablo Too High

Friday, April 21, San Francisco–While PG&E has finally agreed to close the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant, it wants customers to pay an enormous price for the necessary nuclear decommissioning; a price that TURN believes is not justified. A CPUC judge today agreed that PG&E should not be allowed to inflate nuclear decommissioning costs that are paid by customers.

PG&E seeks to increase its previous estimate of $2.286 billion (adopted in 2012) to $3.779 billion (proposed in the current case), a 65% increase. TURN, representing customers’ interests, argued that such an unprecedented increase, the largest ever proposed by a California utility, was unsupportable. TURN challenged a wide array of the assumptions relied on by PG&E, which were relied on by ALJ Darcy Houck in recommending that $1.4 billion be slashed

ALJ Houck’s proposed decision:

  • Finds that PG&E did not justify a proposed $344 million increase in expected security costs.
  • Finds that PG&E did not prove that $505 million in assumed costs relating to removing the reactor vessel, steam generators, and other large components.
  • Rejects PG&E’s assumption that any uncontaminated materials must be transported to out-of-state hazardous waste landfills. This assumption drove $312 million of the increase.

 

All in all, the judge’s PD would deny $1.358 billion (or 91%) of the proposed increase and avoid over $100 million in annual rate increases that would have been passed through to customers had PG&E’s request been approved. The CPUC is likely to vote on the proposal in late May or early June.

“PG&E customers really need some good news, and this is it,” said TURN staff attorney Matt Freedman. “If this proposal is approved by the full CPUC, it would be the most significant cut in a proposed decommissioning cost increase in California history. It would also put PG&E and other utilities on notice that the costs associated with their nuclear plants will be subject to serious scrutiny with the goal of protecting the interests of customers rather than company shareholders.”