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Editorial: San Onofre settlement needs a second look

By   /   Friday, February 20th, 2015  /   Comments Off on Editorial: San Onofre settlement needs a second look

For decades, Southern California Edison has mismanaged and underfunded the electric grid in the Ventura-Santa Barbara county corridor, and as a result electric power is at times about as reliable as it would be in a Third World country.

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It’s time to revisit the California Public Utilities Commission’s decision to place $3.3 billion of the $4.7 billion cost of decommissioning the San Onofre nuclear plant on ratepayers.

And that’s why we applaud the move by Assemblymember Anthony Rendon, a democrat from Lakewood, to hold an additional hearing on the CPUC’s unanimous decision last year.

Rendon, who heads the powerful utilities oversight committee in the legislature, is responding to new and startling revelations about the excessive communications between chair Mike Peevey and Edison officials — including a lengthy conversation that took place at a conference in Warsaw, Poland.

Readers may think that conversations in Poland about a nuclear plant that is located in San Diego County has not much to do with the Tri-Counties. That would be a mistake.

For decades, Southern California Edison has mismanaged and underfunded the electric grid in the Ventura-Santa Barbara county corridor, and as a result electric power is at times about as reliable as it would be in a Third World country.

Meanwhile, executives and regulators alike dropped the ball when they mismanaged an upgrade to San Onofre’s steam generators and the result was a very expensive decision to close the plant, at a cost of $5 billion in decommissioning charges.

To the extent ratepayers, including thousands of small businesses in the region, are writing checks for the decommissioning, there will be less money for urgent and necessary upgrades to the Central Coast’s electrical infrastructure.

Normally, revelations about cozy relations between utility brass and state regulators are the stuff for a few consumer cranks and union rabble rousers. But in the curious case of Mike Peevey and his former colleagues at Edison, the revelations have been shocking and ongoing.

With staff of the attorney general’s office going through Peevey’s hard drive and new revelations about contacts between the watchdogs and the utility raising new and troubling questions, it’s time to hit the pause button on the San Onofre issue.

Rendon’s call for a hearing is a good first step. The next step should be a thorough revisiting of the San Onofre decision and a better path forward for the PUC and its struggling customers on the Central Coast.

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