Federal Judge Says San Onofre Shut Down Debate Is A State Concern

A federal judge in San Diego on Friday referred the complaints over a cost-management plan involving the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant to state courts, but otherwise held to an earlier agreement that utility customer would pay $3.3 billion of the decommissioning costs of the plant.

San Onofre NPPU.S. District Court Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo said the consumer advocates group called Citizens Oversight “remain free to argue to the California Public Utilities Commission and California state courts that the process used to arrive at the settlement violated their rights under the United States Constitution.”

The attorney for the group, Michael Aguirre, said he would file an appeal with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The attorney based his argument that the ratepayers portion of the settlement was too large on the claim that former CPUC President Michael Peevey had worked out details of the settlement with a Southern California Edison executive in a private meeting at a luxury hotel in Warsaw, Poland.

The initial agreement that assigned 70 percent of the San Onofre decommissioning costs of $4.7 billion to ratepayers was announced in November, but it was not known until January that the meeting in the Hotel Bristol Warsaw even took place, according to U-T San Diego.

On Friday, California’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates also said that the cost-management plan was unfair, saying the Southern California Edison should pay at least $648 million more of the decommissioning costs.

“This back-channel deal between a regulator and the utility may have undermined the efforts of ORA and The Utility Reform Network to negotiate the best deal for ratepayers. Edison was likely able to use its knowledge of Peevey’s position to steer the settlement in the direction it wanted,” the Office of Ratepayer Advocates said Friday.

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