Editorial: The San Onofre plant

The shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is the result of poor decisions that Southern California Edison Co. made. The right thing is for the company to cover the cost of its actions instead of trying to pass it on to its customers.

Edison’s problems began with a radioactive water leak at the plant because of problems with the generators manufactured by Mitsubishi Nuclear Systems. There is currently a lawsuit between both companies to see who will be responsible for shutdown costs.

But that is not all. Edison has launched a campaign to convince its customers that they should also be responsible, through their bills, for shutdown costs estimated at billions of dollars.

The idea of dividing among customers the price of poor decisions and keeping the earnings—without lowering the price of the service—when they are very profitable is already considered normal in the private sector. However, this is a public service that has a regulatory body, the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC), to protect consumers from abusive practices.

Therefore, the right thing is for Edison—and its shareholders—to bear the cost of their mistakes.

It is normal for customers to pay reasonable costs for electricity and for large investments in infrastructure, but not for a company’s failures. Customers are not responsible for decisions they did not make or electricity they never consumed.

At the end of the month, we expect the PUC to ratify that Edison cannot pass on the costs of the San Onofre shutdown. At the same time, there should be an investigation about how our state ended up in this situation that decreases the amount of electricity available to Californians.