Edison's position is that it's just following the law. "We have statutes and a regulatory process we abide by," says its spokeswoman Jennifer Manfre. Retroactively changing the rules just for San Onofre, she says, would saddle the utility industry with an unfair "regulatory uncertainty."
Ratepayer advocates say that's all hooey designed to allow the utilities to hold on to money they've squeezed from ratepayers for services not rendered, and to defer a final accounting. They say the PUC has the legal right to take a useless power plant out of the rate base whenever it wants, and that halting collections for San Onofre is long overdue.
They're especially galled over Edison's contention that any refunds must be delayed until it knows how much the utilities recover for the shutdown from Mitsubishi and their insurance companies, or in lawsuits.
"We're not sure why ratepayers should be responsible for Edison's success or failure to collect from insurers," says Matthew Freedman of The Utility Reform Network, or TURN. If matters end up in court, he adds, "we don't want ratepayers to be on the hook for the Edison lawyers' ability to make good or bad arguments." The right solution, he says, is for the PUC to hold Edison responsible to the ratepayers, period.