Decommissioning:

Under all NRC operating licenses, once a nuclear plant ceases generating power, it must be decommissioned.  Decommissioning is defined by federal regulation (10 CFR 50.2) as the safe removal of a facility from service along with the reduction of residual radioactivity to a level that permits termination of the NRC operating license.  Decommissioning is intended to restore a nuclear facility to such a condition that it presents no risk to public health and safety or the environment.  For more details on decommissioning, see the NRC’s description.

In preparation for a plant’s eventual decommissioning, all nuclear plant owners must maintain trust funds while the plants are in operation to ensure sufficient amounts will be available to decommission their facilities.  Utilities operating nuclear power plants collect monthly fees on customers’ electric bills to fund these trusts, which are further augmented over the life of the plant from returns on investment in fixed income (bonds) and equity (stocks).  The following tables show all of the decommissioning trust funds maintained by California utilities, as well as each facility’s Decommissioning Cost Estimate (DCE), the amounts spent on decommissioning activities, and the amount (if any) currently collected in rates. 

All data are obtained through data requests to the relevant utilities and are current through January 1, 2021.  Readers should take careful note of the vintage of the dollars shown in the tables below: different vintages can explain why numbers may not sum up precisely across columns; another reason why the DCE may not equal the sum of Total Spent and Trust Fund Balance is that the DCE is reviewed and approved triennially in a CPUC proceeding, while the Total Spent and Trust Fund Balances are current as of the date of the data request.

PG&E

PG&E ($ in millions)  

Nuclear Plant   Total Decommissioning Cost Estimate* Total Spent** Trust Fund Balance***   Current Annual Collections in Rates

DCPP 1

$1,235 

$24 

$1,758 

$0

DCPP 2

$1,478 

$24 

$2,299 

$0

HBPP 3

$1,095  

$972 

$170 

$63  

*     Amounts shown are in 2017$ for DCPP and nominal 2018$ for HBPP. Does not reflect 2018 NDCTP, A.18-12-008, which is currently pending before the Commission.
**    Amounts shown are nominal $ spent as of 12/31/20
***   Amounts shown are in 2020$ as of 12/31/20 

 

 SDG&E

SDG&E ($ in millions)  

 Nuclear Plant 

Total Decommissioning Cost Estimate * (Including "SDG&E Only" costs)  

Total Spent**  

Trust Fund Balance***  

Current Annual Collections in Rates

SONGS 1   

$51 

$132 

$150  

$0

SONGS 2

$511 

$194 

$364 

$0

SONGS 3

$566 

$204 

$426 

$0  

*    Amounts shown for SONGS 1 and SONGS Units 2&3 are from the 2017 DCE, as submitted to the Commission in A.18-03-009, including "SDG&E-Only" costs escalated to 2020$. Approval of the 2017 SONGS 1 and SONGS 2&3 DCE is pending before the Commission.  
      Note:DCE amounts shown include the following SDG&E-Only costs in 2020$. Unit 1=$3.2M, Unit 2= $23.2M, Unit 3= $26.2M
**   Represents spend through December 31, 2020 in nominal $. 
***  Represents Trust Liquidation Values as of December 31, 2020 in nominal $.  

SCE

 
  
SCE  ($ in millions)
 
Nuclear Plant Total Decommissioning
Cost Estimate* 
Total Spent*** Trust Fund Balance****    Current
Annual
Collections
in Rates 
 
SONGS 1 N/A** $701 $318 $0
SONGS 2 $1,845 $783 $1,162 $0
SONGS 3 $2,046 $803 $1,395 $0
Palo Verde 1 $181 $0 $468 $0
Palo Verde 2 $176 $0 $479 $0
Palo Verde 3 $189 $0 $494 $0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

*      Amounts shown for SONGS 2&3 are from the 2017 DCE, as submitted to the Commission in A.18-03-009, escalated to 2020$. Approval of the 2017 SONGS 2&3 DCE is pending before the Commission. Amounts for Palo Verde are from the 2016 DCE (Advice Letter 3925-E) escalated to 2020$. In 2016$, estimated cost was $165 million for PV 1, $159 million for PV 2, and $172 million for PV 3.
 **    The cost estimate for SCE’s share of the remaining decommissioning activities at SONGS 1, as set forth in the 2017 DCE submitted to the Commission in A.18-03-009, is approximately $177 million (in 2017$) and $190 million in 2020$. In 2009, SCE’s estimated share of the cost to decommission SONGS 1 was approximately $768 million (in 2009$). See
A.09-09-009 and D.10‑07-047.

***   Amounts shown are in nominal$ spent as of 12/31/20 for SONGS 1 and 2020$ spent as of 12/31/20 for SONGS 2&3.

****  Amounts shown are in 2020$ as of 12/31/20.
 
 

Proceedings

Every three years, in the Nuclear Decommissioning Cost Triennial Proceeding (NDCTP), the CPUC reviews forecasts by the utilities of their expected decommissioning costs. The 2009 NDCTP was completed in 2013; the 2012 NDCTP was completed in 2014; and the 2015 NDTCP for PG&E was recently completed (the 2015 NDCTP for SONGS is ongoing see link below). Withdrawals from the trust funds are subject to a reasonableness review by the CPUC. These reviews are conducted in proceedings before the Commission as the utilities submit them. Recent proceedings that included reasonableness reviews are listed below:


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