Costs of San Onofre outage top $300M

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The darkened San Onofre nuclear power plants stands in the distance as a surfer walks from the water. Credit: Marc Boster / Los Angeles Times

SAN DIEGO — The costs of the outage at the San Onofre nuclear plant continue to soar, but it remains unclear who will ultimately foot the bill.

Edison International, the parent company of plant operator and majority owner Southern California Edison, reported its third quarter earnings Thursday, including new details on the costs of the troubles at the plant.

Inspection and repair costs since the plant’s two reactors were shut down in January total $96 million as of Sept. 30, while the costs of replacing the plant’s power have risen to $221 million, the company said.

Edison is the operator and majority owner of the plant, which sits just north of Camp Pendleton near the San Diego-Orange County line. San Diego Gas & Electric owns a 20 percent share and receives one-fifth of its power.

The plant’s two active reactors were taken offline in January. One was shut down Jan. 9 for planned repairs while the other was shuttered abruptly Jan. 31 after a small leak of radioactive steam was detected. No one was injured by the leak but subsequent tests found fault with equipment in both reactors.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing a proposal from Edison to restart one of the reactors at 70 percent power for a trial period of five months, at which time more inspections would take place to ensure its safety. There are no immediate plans to restart the second reactor.

On Oct. 25, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to initiate a formal investigation into the long-term outages at the plant. It was unclear how long the investigation might take. As part of the investigation, the commission was expected to consider whether to order a refund to utility customers dating back to Jan. 1.

The $300 million-plus estimate on the costs associated with the plant’s shuttering came out of a third-quarter earnings statement released Thursday by parent company Edison International.

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