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, 2020.  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 ($ in millions)  

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
















*     Amounts shown are in 2017$ for DCPP and nominal 2018$ for HBPP
**    Amounts shown are nominal $ spent as of 12/31/19
***   Amounts shown are in 2019$ as of 12/31/19



SDG&E ($ in millions)  

 Nuclear Plant 

Total Decommissioning Cost Estimate *

Total Spent**  

Trust Fund Balance***  

Current Annual Collections in Rates

SONGS 1   
















 *  Represents value of approved Unit 1, 2016 DCE including $3.3M of "SDG&E Only" costs in 2019$.
    Unit 2/3 approved 2014 DCE, including $18.8 M of "SDG&E Only" costs in 2019$.
    Note: Unit 1 2016 DCE approved amount is $37.0M, including $2.9 of "SDG&E Only" costs in 2014$ (See D.18-11-034), issued 12/7/18).
    Note: Unit 2 & 3 Combined - 2014 DCE approved amount is $899M, including $16.5M of "SDG&E Only" cost in 2014$.  Unit 2, $424M & Unit 3, $475M in 2014$ (See D.16-04-019), issued 4/26/16). 
**  Represents spend through December 31, 2019 in nominal $.
*** Represents Trust Liquidation Values at December 31, 2019 in nominal $. 



SCE  ($ in millions)
Nuclear Plant Total Decommissioning
Cost Estimate* 
Total Spent*** Trust Fund Balance****    Current
in Rates 
SONGS 1 N/A** $671 $317 $0
SONGS 2 $1,793 $622 $1,139 $0
SONGS 3 $1,994 $636 $1,354 $0
Palo Verde 1 $181 $0 $423 $0
Palo Verde 2 $175 $0 $433 $0
Palo Verde 3 $189 $0 $447 $0












 *    Amounts shown for SONGS 2&3 are in 2014 DCE escalated to 2019$.  In 2014$ (A.14-12-007), estimated cost was $1,575 million for SONGS 2 and $1,759 million for SONGS 3; amounts for Palo
      Verde are from 2016 DCE (Advice Letter 3925-E) escalated to 2019$.  In 2016$, estimated cost for PVI was $165 million, $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 Advice Letter 3925-# is approximately $136 million (in 2014$), or $156.5 in 2019$.  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 actual $ spent as of 12/31/19
**** Amounts shown are in 2019$ as of 12/31/19


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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