California public utility regulators voted Thursday morning to begin an investigation into whether Southern California Edison should be allowed to continue charging consumers for power from its shuttered San Onofre nuclear power plant.
The plant has been closed since early this year, after problems in the steam generators in two of its reactors. Commissioners voted 5-0 Thursday to institute the investigation.
Under state law, once a power plant has been closed for nine months, an investigation must be held to determine whether customers should still be charged for the costs of operating it.
The California Public Utilities Commission met in Irvine Thursday morning to set the stage for the investigation, which will consider the question of who should bear the cost of repairing the two reactors, among other issues.
In a report to the commission under consideration on Thursday, regulatory staff said that insurance companies and the federal government might be held responsible for some of that cost.
The formal investigation will not begin until Southern California Edison, which owns most of the facility, and San Diego Gas & Electric, which owns a smaller portion of it, file a report next month that formally documents that the reactors are offline, and that the shutdowns were unplanned.
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Under state law, utility companies are required to file such notifications when a facility has been offline for nine months.