What is the SONGS Investigation?
In 2005, the CPUC authorized $680 million in spending for the steam generator replacement project (SGRP) for SONGS units 2 and 3, an amount that was subsequently reduced to $671 million in D.11-05-035. Unit 2 replacement was completed in April 2010 and Unit 3 replacement was completed in February 2011. Both generators operated until January 2012 when Unit 2 was shut down for scheduled maintenance and Unit 3 was shut down due to a steam generator tube leak. Neither unit ever came back online and, on June 7, 2013, SCE notified the NRC that both units would be permanently shut down.
On November 1, 2012, the CPUC initiated (OII) I.12-10-013, an Order Instituting Investigation, intended to consider the numerous issues surrounding the outage at SONGS. The investigation was divided into four phases with each addressing the following issues:
- Phase 1: a reasonableness review of SONGS expenditures in 2012. A proposed decision was issued in November 2013 (see PD here), but never voted on by the Commissioners.
- Phase 2: a reasonableness review of SONGS expenditures in 2013.
- Phase 3: investigate the causes of the replacement steam generator damage, allocation of responsibility, and the reasonableness of replacement costs.
- Phase 4: make adjustments to SCE’s 2013 revenue requirement.
This proceeding is still open and its docket can be viewed by clicking here. (SCE’s filings and testimony can be viewed by clicking here.) Prior to completion of all four phases of the investigation, SCE, SDG&E, the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, and other parties entered into a settlement agreement (approved by the CPUC in D.14-11-040) to resolve the issues in the investigation. The parties agreed that:
- SCE would recover from ratepayers all 2012 and 2013 expenditures, but approximately $99 million related to steam generator inspection and repair costs would be refunded to ratepayers
- SONGS’ remaining plant balance would be removed from the rate base effective February 1, 2012; approximately $65 million in revenues collected from 2011 through Feb. 2012 would be retained by the utilities, and approximately $254 million in revenues collected for the SGRP after Feb. 2012 would be refunded to ratepayers
- SCE and SDG&E would be authorized to recover all replacement power costs
- Payments recovered from insurance and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (the steam generator manufacturer) would be split between ratepayers and utility shareholder
Additional information regarding SONGS can be found at the NRC SONGS webpage.
SCE Rules Violations and Sanctions
On February 10, 2015, Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility filed a motion asking the Commission to investigate a late notice of ex parte communication filed by SCE related to a March 2013 meeting between SCE and former Commission President, Michael Peevey, at a conference in Warsaw, Poland. In the course of the investigation, it was determined that SCE violated several CPUC Rules of Practice and Procedure through its failure to accurately and timely report these ex parte communications, and, in particular, their relationship with the proposed/amended settlement agreement (D.14-11-040). In D.15-12-016, issued in December 2015, the Commission penalized SCE $16,520,000 for continuing ethical violations involving Rule 1.1 initiated by an SCE executive vice-president; $190,000 in fines for violations of Rule 8.4 relating to unreported ex parte communications; and $30,000 for separate Rule 1.1 ethical violations by the SCE President; totaling $16,740,000.