Wednesday, October 1, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

PUC can redeem itself: Charge Edison for San Onofre

TomEliasW

By
From page A6 | July 25, 2013 |

More consumerism from the California Public Utilities Commission – that was a fond hope of at least some of the voters who gave Jerry Brown a rare third term in the governor’s office.

So far, they’ve been disappointed, even though Brown appointees now make up a majority of the five-member commission that decides what Californians pay for electricity, natural gas and (in some places) water.

Under Brown’s appointees, the commission has encouraged a profusion of huge solar thermal energy projects guaranteed to fatten the coffers of companies like Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. It has done little to punish PG&E for the negligence leading to the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion that killed eight and destroyed many more homes. It has kept secret the costs customers will eventually pay for several new power sources. And more.

This is California’s most powerful regulatory agency because once they’re appointed, commissioners can’t be removed even by the governor who named them. Now comes a rare opportunity for the PUC to prove it is just as interested in the welfare of state residents and small business as it is in helping giant utility companies.

That chance sprang up when Ted Craver, chairman of Edison’s parent holding company, announced unexpectedly in early June that his firm will retire the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station beside the I-5 freeway on the Orange-San Diego county line. The plant is partially owned by San Diego Gas & Electric Co., but majority owner Edison operates it.

Before that announcement, most effects of San Onofre’s troubles were in the hands of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which waffled for many months over whether to let the plant restart. It has produced no electricity since early 2012, when a leaking generator tube released a small amount of radioactive steam into the atmosphere.

That quickly raised fears of a rerun of Japan’s Fukushima power plant disaster, in the long term the most frightening aspect of the monster tsunami that struck northeast of Tokyo in 2011.

Ironically, it was a Japanese firm – Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – which built the generator that failed. Edison and Mitsubishi are currently battling over how much that company should pay as a consequence of all the problems caused by failure of its $700 million component.

Edison has said the San Onofre problems came as a surprise, but a 2004 letter from a company executive shows the firm may have known years earlier there could be design flaws in replacement steam generators. Yet Edison still certified the new generator as a like-for-like replacement. The letter was released in May by Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who pushed for extensive federal hearings while Edison was still trying to get the plant at least partially reopened.

The issue for the PUC now is how much consumers should pay for the complex, lengthy process of taking down the plant and storing its high-level waste on site.

News stories on financial aspects of the shutdown sometimes mention that San Onofre’s owners over decades have paid more than $2.7 billion into a plant-retirement fund. But that’s not really company money; it all came from customers, built into electricity rates just as retirement expenses are for every nuclear power plant in America.

Now it turns out that amount is not enough; there may be another $1 billion or so in costs. The PUC will decide whether consumers or company shareholders pick up that expense.

The answer is obvious: the company should pay. Yes, many of its shareholders are senior citizens on fixed incomes who depend on steady dividends. But shareholders put in place the executives who let the generator tube problem fester for years while they hoped it would just go away.

Like most corporate shareholders, they periodically elect the directors who hire management. So if management failed, that is ultimately their responsibility. So shareholders should now pay all expenses beyond the billions consumers have already kicked in.

If the PUC doesn’t decide the issue in just that way, it will be continuing the consistent pro-corporate, anti-consumer stance it has adopted throughout PG&E’s San Bruno penalty process and many other questions for most of the last 40 years. By contrast, making Edison pay would be a signal things may be changing.

— Elias is author of the current book “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” now available in an updated third edition. His email address is tdelias@aol.com

Comments

comments

.

News

Jury: Marsh legally sane during murders

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Undocumented Student Center offers help to immigrants

By Julia Ann Easley | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Rairdan supports more inquiry-based learning

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Standing In: Don’t write? I may as well stop breathing

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A2

 
Woodland man convicted in domestic violence case

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Apply soon to be a Master Gardener

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
‘Edible City’ discussion planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
TSA bomb training may be noisy

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Katehi will address Rotarians on Monday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Mondavi Center hosts all-star lineup of classical, jazz, dance and more

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C3 | Gallery

Willett students sensitized to those who are different

By Maria Clayton | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Friends of the Library host biggest book sale of the year

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Give blood and get a free movie ticket

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Pedal around Davis on weekly bike ride

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
AIM testing dates set this fall, winter

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4

Tour Honey Bee Haven on Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Woodland City Cemetery tours planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
 
‘ADHD — Myth or Reality’ addressed at UCD talk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Quotes from the Marsh double-murder trial

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
UCD athletics have break-from-work entertainment for everyone

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: C5 | Gallery

Quad abuzz with students

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Wetlands visitors may see ducks arriving

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Boy Scouts host family event in park

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10

 
How did the Aggies get their name?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: C12

.

Forum

Hey, it’s free childcare …

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Will you open your heart, and your home?

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
The right vote for education

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Just what Davis schools need

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Nolan’s a calm voice of reason

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

DHS girls tennis team tames Lions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devil girls play dynamite pool defense

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Davis volleyballers finish strong at Franklin

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Hard-working Blue Devil boys get a water polo win

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

A’s fall as AL wild-card game lives up to its name

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Legacy roundup: Milliennium takes Manteca tournament

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

AYSO roundup: Beans, Capay can’t shake each other in U19 play

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Alliance roundup: Los Azules, Italia win tourneys

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Sports briefs: Real Salt Lake has too much for Republic

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8

 
.

Features

From the ground up: Rediscovering classic cheesecake

By Ann Evans | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

Leonard D. Blackford

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Anne Elizabeth Elbrecht

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Wednesday, October 1, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A8