California PUC to review San Onofre decommissioning cost estimate

The members of the California Public Utilities Commission at their April 7 meeting are due to review and possibly vote on a proposed decision of Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey that finds reasonable the 2014 San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Unit Nos. 2 and 3 Decommissioning Cost Estimate of $4.411 billion.

Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric have each collected sufficient funds from their respective ratepayers to fund their share of the Decommissioning Cost Estimate and the funds are currently held in Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts. Accordingly, decommissioning cost collections from ratepayers can be reduced to $0.0 based on currently known and estimated costs, said the resolution.

In Decembe 2014, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) filed this joint application seeking the following commission actions with regard to the 2014 Decommissioning Cost Estimate for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) Units 2 and 3:

  • Find that the updated Decommissioning Cost Estimate of $4.411 billion is reasonable;
  • Authorize Edison, effective immediately, to reduce to $0.0 its annual contribution to the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust;
  • Authorize SDG&E, effective January 1, 2016, to reduce to $0.0 its annual contribution to the Nuclear Decommissioning Trust;
  • Create and approve an advice letter process for authorizing disbursements from the Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts, reporting incurred costs and forecasting future costs, and submitting Nuclear Decommissioning Trust balance statements; and
  • Authorize Edison and SDG&E to file annual applications seeking reasonableness review for decommissioning activities completed during the previous year and for the years in which the commission does not conduct a Nuclear Decommissioning Cost Triennial Proceeding.

Edison testified that the current balance in its Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts for SONGS Units 2 and 3 was $3.37 billion, with a net liquidation value of $3.05 billion. Based on its forecast of decommissioning costs and projected trust fund asset returns, Edison and SDG&E determined that no further ratepayer contributions were required.

All parties supported these requests, except the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, which contended that the actual decommissioning costs were likely to be higher but presented no evidence on the actual amount it believed would be needed for decommissioning.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.