Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric were ordered Thursday to refund nearly $24 million to their customers--an action that will amount to credits of less than 1% but that underscores what regulators consider a major principle.
The refunds--$15.9 million for Edison and $8 million for SDG&E--stem from a 1982 increase in electricity rates to compensate the utilities for repair work at the oldest of the three units at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County. The repair, which totaled $70.8 million, required installation of "sleeves" over tubes in steam generators to prevent water leakage.
Customers began paying off the repair bill in 1983, but in March, 1983, the PUC halted collection after concluding that Edison--which built San Onofre with SDG&E as a minority partner--should have recovered the cost from Westinghouse Electric Corp., manufacturer of the equipment.
Edison sued Westinghouse for $190 million in 1983 and the case is still pending. Edison spokesman Lewis M. Phelps criticized the commission decision as "premature" because of the unresolved litigation.