A Fractured Fairy Tale For Nuclear Times


Once upon a time there was a happy nuclear power plant, just steaming away and producing electricity, and millions of pounds of nuclear waste. san smiley
Its name was the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, and it had a happy nickname:  SONGS! songs_01 cropped
SONGS had the good fortune of being located on the beautiful coast of Southern California, with that great view, and that great opportunity to spew all that nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean as well into the surrounding communities. waste spill_03
But…one day in 2012 SONGS got a boo-boo – oh, no!


san sad
So the owners of SONGS, Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), decided to give SONGS a $680 million upgrade they said would add 40 years to SONGS’ life. SEC SDG&E LOGO
But…the newly installed replacement steam generators wore thin and leaked radiation, and the owners had to close the plant in 2012.  Poor SONGS!  No more steaming and spewing!

SCE and SDG&E learned the costs related to this debacle would be $4.7 billion.  That’s a lot of money!  So they got together to decide what to do.

san crying
“Oh, dear,” said one, “our shareholders will not be happy about this.”  Shareholders are people who invest in companies, and when the companies make lots of money, the shareholders make lots of money, too. shareholders sharing

But if SCE and SDG&E had to spend $4.7 billion to take care of the shutdown  of SONGS, the shareholders would not get any money for a very long time and…


empty wallet.jpg

Everyone agreed that indeed, shareholders would not be happy.


sad shareholders
Another voice was heard at the meeting.  “I have an idea!  Let’s charge all the electricity customers in Southern California to fix this mess!  After all, they paid to get electricity from SONGS, so they should pay when they don’t get electricity from SONGS.” idea _02

“Yes!” said another.  “And if the customers don’t like it, well, they can just stop paying their electric bill and not get any electricity!”


no electricity cropped

Everyone agreed that indeed, the customers should pay


paying money
Including the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the regulators who are supposed to look after customers’ best interests, but don’t. CPUC
In 2013, a bunch of people met to talk about this in Warsaw, Poland.  Can you find Warsaw, Poland on a map?  No?  Well, the regulators figured nobody else could, either! map.png
And in 2014, the CPUC decided the electricity customers should pay $3.3 billion of that $4.7 billion. Everybody at SONGS and the CPUC and SCE and SDG&E did the Happy Dance. happy dance

They were a whole dancing alphabet of happiness!


dancing alphbet

Except some customers weren’t happy.  And some customer groups weren’t happy.  And then some lawyers got involved.



And after more meetings – none of them in Warsaw, Poland – a new decision was announced in January 2018:



SCE and SDG&E agreed to shave $775 million from the original agreement.  “Customers Save Millions!” it was announced.


Headline UT

And the customers were very excited, and now they did the Happy Dance.


happy dance

Until they did the math, and realized the $775 million meant customers were still on the hook for $2.5 billion.



And that $775 million only amounted to saving each customer about $2.50 a month.  For four years.


two dollars 50 cents cropped

The End.  Almost…


the end almost
Today SONGS still sits on the coast of sunny Southern California, all shut down but not forgotten. san sleeping.jpg

Because all those years while SONGS was busy steaming, the amount of nuclear waste was growing.  And growing.



To about 3.55 million pounds of nuclear waste.  That will remain radioactive for thousands of years.


But everyone agrees:


happy shareholders_05.jpg

The shareholders are indeed, happy.


happy shareholders_02

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