SDG&E, Southern California Edison, Consumer Advocates Reach Settlement On San Onofre Plant Closure Costs
SAN DIEGO, March 27, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) today executed a joint settlement with Southern California Edison (SCE), The Utility Reform Network (TURN) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) which, if approved, would resolve the CPUC’s current inquiry into the June 2013 retirement of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Last year, SCE, as the majority owner and operator of SONGS, made the decision to close the plant and to seek approval to begin decommissioning activities.
The settlement calls for SDG&E and SCE to refund all revenues associated with the replacement steam generators collected since Feb. 1, 2012. In addition, the utilities will remove from rate base other SONGS-related investments after Feb. 1 and recover them at a significantly reduced rate of return over a 10-year period, which will result in ongoing benefits to customers.
“We believe this settlement is fair and reasonable and balances the interests of customers and shareholders,” said Jeffrey W. Martin, CEO of SDG&E. “The settlement ensures that customers will not have to pay for San Onofre’s faulty steam generators post-shutdown and also allows shareholders to recoup the majority of their non-steam generator investment in the plant, which provided clean, reliable, low-cost energy to the region for more than 40 years.”
The agreement requires SDG&E to use the reduction in SONGS-related rates to reduce overall energy costs for customers. As part of the settlement, SDG&E will be allowed to recover the cost of the replacement power procured for customers while SONGS was not operating. The immediate refund of costs related to the steam generators combined with the reduction in rate base costs effectively results in a $121 million offset of some of the power costs incurred in 2013 and 2014 and helps to keep future electric rates lower than they otherwise would have been.
The settlement also provides the opportunity to pursue additional cost recovery for both customers and shareholders. SDG&E intends to vigorously pursue cost recovery from the manufacturers of the SONGS steam generators, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), as well as from insurance companies.
The settlement establishes a regulatory sharing mechanism that would allocate to customers a portion of any proceeds the utilities’ might receive in the future from pending claims against the international insurance consortium, Nuclear Energy Insurance Limited (NEIL), and against MHI.
As a 20-percent owner of the shuttered nuclear plant, SDG&E is entitled to 20 percent of any such recoveries and would allocate a portion of the amounts recovered with customers as prescribed in the settlement.
SDG&E and its parent company, Sempra Energy, today filed a Form 8K with the Securities and Exchange Commission with details of the financial terms of the settlement. A CPUC decision on the settlement is expected in the second quarter of this year.
SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides safe and reliable energy service to 3.4 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and 861,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles. SDG&E is committed to creating ways to help customers save energy and money every day. SDG&E is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a Fortune 500 energy services holding company based in San Diego. Connect with SDG&E’s Customer Contact Center at 800-411-7343, on Twitter (@SDGE) and Facebook.
This press release contains statements that are not historical fact and constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements can be identified by words like “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “estimates,” “projects,” “forecasts,” “contemplates,” “intends,” “depends,” “should,” “could,” “would,” “will,” “may,” “potential,” “target,” “pursue,” “goals,” “outlook,” “maintain” or similar expressions, or discussions of guidance, strategies, plans, goals, opportunities, projections, initiatives, objectives or intentions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of performance. They involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. Future results may differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are necessarily based upon various assumptions involving judgments with respect to the future and other risks, including, among others: local, regional, national and international economic, competitive, political, legislative and regulatory conditions and developments; actions and the timing of actions, including issuances of permits to construct and licenses for operation, by the California Public Utilities Commission, California State Legislature, U.S. Department of Energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, California Energy Commission, California Air Resources Board, and other regulatory, governmental and environmental bodies in the United States and other countries in which we operate; capital markets conditions, including the availability of credit and the liquidity of our investments; the timing and success of business development efforts and construction, maintenance and capital projects, including risks in obtaining permits, licenses, certificates and other authorizations on a timely basis and risks in obtaining adequate and competitive financing for such projects; inflation, interest and exchange rates; the impact of benchmark interest rates, generally Moody’s A-rated utility bond yields, on our California utilities’ cost of capital; energy markets, including the timing and extent of changes and volatility in commodity prices; the availability of electric power, natural gas and liquefied natural gas, including disruptions caused by failures in the North American transmission grid, pipeline explosions and equipment failures and the decommissioning of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS); weather conditions, natural disasters, catastrophic accidents, and conservation efforts; risks inherent with nuclear power facilities and radioactive materials storage, including the catastrophic release of such materials, the disallowance of the recovery of the investment in, or operating costs of, the nuclear facility due to an extended outage and facility closure, and increased regulatory oversight; risks posed by decisions and actions of third parties who control the operations of investments in which we do not have a controlling interest; wars, terrorist attacks and cybersecurity threats; business, regulatory, environmental and legal decisions and requirements; expropriation of assets by foreign governments and title and other property disputes; the impact on reliability of San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s electric transmission and distribution system due to increased amount and variability of power supply from renewable energy sources; the impact on competitive customer rates of the growth in distributed and local power generation and the corresponding decrease in demand for power delivered through our electric transmission and distribution system; the inability or determination not to enter into long-term supply and sales agreements or long-term firm capacity agreements; the resolution of litigation; and other uncertainties, all of which are difficult to predict and many of which are beyond the control of the company. These risks and uncertainties are further discussed in the reports that Sempra Energy has filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. These reports are available through the EDGAR system free-of-charge on the SEC’s website, www.sec.gov, and on the company’s website at www.sempra.com.
Investors should not rely unduly on any forward-looking statement. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof, and the company undertakes no obligation to update or revise these forecasts or projections or other forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Sempra International, LLC, and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, LLC, are not the same companies as the California utilities, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) or Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), and Sempra International, LLC, and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, LLC, are not regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission. Sempra International’s underlying entities include Sempra Mexico and Sempra South American Utilities. Sempra U.S. Gas & Power’s underlying entities include Sempra Renewables and Sempra Natural Gas.
SOURCE San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)