Dispute over who will pay for San Onofre Plant closure

SDG&E and Edison want customers to keep paying for failed nuke

Who should pay for the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant? Tuesday night, San Diegans made their answer known, loud and clear: not SDG&E customers.

SDG&E says it was greatly affected when the plant closed. They had to pay to buy power from other sources and they had to pay for replacement generators when the old ones failed.

But at a public meeting Tuesday dozens said they would be affected much worse if customers end up on the hook for those costs.

“My mom is the only one that’s working and she makes minimum wage,” said Maria Mendoza, a high school senior.

When Mendoza took the podium she wanted the California Public Utilities Commission to know her family is struggling.

“I’ve had to find a job because there isn’t enough money in our house and just adding extra money to our bill is just going to be too much,” continued Mendoza.

Classmates at King Chavez High School stood by her along with others eager to speak against the idea of customers paying for the closure of San Onofre Nuclear Plant.

San Diego Gas and Electric is seeking about $800 million from customers to cover costs associated with the plant closing in early 2012.

Before the CPUC meeting in Kearny Mesa, advocate Mark Toney reminded supporters that the plant closed due to faulty generators – by no fault of the public.

“They don’t have the right to charge you for their mistake,” Toney added.

In a statement SDG&E says:

“The CPUC typically has allowed utilities to recover their sunk costs in power plants that have been taken out of service. We are confident the CPUC will make a decision that is fair to our customers and shareholders.”

The CPUC says commissioners will have to decide to rule for or against the electric companies with the possibility of refunds.

SDG&E says its rates will not go up as a result of the plant closure. Public utilities representatives did not even want to speculate on when rate payers can expect a ruling from commissioners. But Tuesday’s demonstrators are hoping to have a resolution by the end of the year.

SDG&E shared ownership of the San Onofre Nuclear Plant. California Edison owned nearly 80 percent of it until its closure.