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SDG&E Told to Refund $8 Million

September 05, 1986|BRUCE KEPPEL | Times Staff Writer

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.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 6, 1986 Home Edition Part 1 Page 3 Column 2 Metro Desk 2 inches; 56 words Type of Material: Correction
In a story that appeared in The Times Friday on refunds for Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric customers, it was erroneously reported that the state Public Utilities Commission halted the collection of certain fees from those customers in 1983. Actually, the PUC blocked the collection of the fees--related to repairs at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station--in March, 1985.

In its decision, the PUC attributed Edison's inability to collect from Westinghouse to the utility's earlier "imprudent" release of Westinghouse from liability or negligence.

"Edison was imprudent in signing an unnecessarily broad release (of responsibility) with Westinghouse," Thursday's decision concludes. "Because of the broad wording of the release, the riskiness of the current litigation with Westinghouse has increased and the possibility that ratepayers will be compensated for sleeving and related expenses that they have borne has, accordingly, decreased."

Consequently, the commission ruled that the utilities should shoulder three-fourths of the financial burden.

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