The San Onofre reactors are being retired. Safety matters aside, the big questions many are asking now include: how will this impact electricity reserves heading into summer and how will it impact my bill? NBC 7's Steven Luke reports on this side of the story.
Safety matters aside, the big questions many are asking now include: how will this impact electricity reserves heading into summer and how will it impact my bill?
The good news according to San Diego Gas & Electric is when you flip on the switch in August the lights will go on. They say there is adequate supply. The bigger question mark is money.
SDG&E estimated 20-percent of its power came from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).
On Friday, Southern California Edison announced it will retire the plant and its two remaining reactors.
Now that the plant will no longer be part of the energy grid for the region, SDG&E said it do what the utility has been doing the past year - meeting demand by relying on the newly built Sunrise Powerlink and other supplies.
"Absent any kind of unusual circumstances like the loss of a generator or the loss of a power plant, or a wildfire under a transmission line, something like that, we think we'll be able to meet our customers’ needs with no problem," said Stephanie Donovan, spokesperson for SDG&E.
While the power is gone - the San Onofre debt is not.
“The really big fear is we're going to be on the hook for another $2 billion in decommissioning costs or whatever that is, and that's the next battle. Who should pay for this money pit?" asked public advocate Charles Langley.
The utilities say 90-percent of decommissioning costs are already paid for and Customers will continue to pay the rest.
Maria Severson is an attorney representing San Diego rate payers - she's part of an effort urging the Public Utilities Commission to give customers money back in light of the pricey failed fixes to the plant's steam generators.
"What's going to happen to what the rate payers have paid so far for services they never got for the defective equipment that seemed to be known defective when it was installed?" she asked.
"That's like paying for a car, making monthly payments for a car, you never got.”
A higher future bill is still on the table.
"Potentially those SONGS costs for the power that should've come from SONGS but didn't and we got from someplace else, eventually could get passed on to customers," Donovan said.
SDG&E says immediate increases as a result of the decommissioning are not likely - however there are already some other unrelated hikes in the works.
Starting in September about 300,000 residential customers in the upper tiers of usage will see an increase in their monthly bill.