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Utilities urged to stop charging for nuke plant

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SAN DIEGO — A consumer advocate division of the California Public Utilities Commission filed a motion Tuesday encouraging the state to remove costs related to the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station from consumers’ electricity bills.

The Division of Ratepayer Advocates, the independent consumer advocate of the commission, wants the state to direct Rosemead-based Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. to stop charging consumers for San Onofre-related costs, except for essential safety and security expenses, according to Christopher Chow, a spokesman for the commission.

San-Onofre-1Consumers could expect about a 4 percent reduction in energy bills, said Mark Pocta, program manager for the DRA.

It was not known when the commission would take up the request.

Edison officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The motion was prompted by Edison’s June 7 announcement that it was shuttering the San Diego County seaside plant for good. Edison officials had been attempting to get at least part of the plant back online, but decided to drop it partly because the administrative process to gain regulatory approval could have taken more than another year, which was deemed too costly.

The utility estimated in February that the closure of the plant located south of San Clemente had cost it $400 million.

Two of the plant’s reactor units have been offline since early last year. Another unit, which was in operation from 1968 to 1992, was shut down over concerns it could not withstand a major earthquake.

Unit 2 was shut down Jan. 9, 2012, for planned routine maintenance, while Unit 3 was shut down on Jan. 31, 2012, due to a small leak of radioactive steam, which did not lead to any injuries.

Edison determined the leak was caused by wear and tear on steam pressure tubes in the reactors that happened faster than expected.

Edison had been pushing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart one unit at 70 percent capacity for five months as a test run.

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