Mar 14 2013
There are train wrecks, and there are train wrecks. Then there’s San Onofre.
You probably know San Onofre as the full-figured fiasco overlooking the Pacific Ocean near the Orange/San Diego county line. Beginning in 2004, Southern California Edison, the nuclear power plant’s principal owner, oversaw a $770-million project to replace its two aging steam generators with new models. The new units, which were supposed to last 20 years, lasted scarcely 20 months before showing alarmingly severe wear and tear.
The plant was shut down. Neither of its two units, which are designated units 2 and 3, has generated a practical watt since the end of January 2012. They may never operate again. (The troubled Unit 1 was permanently shuttered in 1992.)
But while San Onofre’s electrons are but a memory, the billing lingers on — nearly $1 billion charged to ratepayers of Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co., the plant’s minority owner, over the last year, according to the Public Utility Commission’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates. The money is still flowing out of the pockets of the two utilities’ 6.4 million billed customers at the rate of more than $68 million a month. Some of that may be refunded to customers, but possibly not for years.
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