Complaint accuses Edison of manipulating costs at San Onofre nuclear plant

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A complaint filed with California regulators accuses Southern California Edison of boosting the cost of replacing defective steam generators at the troubled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

The Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility complaint says the utility violated federal securities law by manipulating inflation calculations so Edison could recover more money from ratepayers.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the complaint filed Wednesday with the California Public Utilities Commission claims Securities and Exchange Commission filings show costs may have been hiked by up to $100 million.

The twin-reactor plant in northern San Diego County has been shut down since January 31, 2012. A small radiation leak led to the discovery of damage to hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water.

The CPUC is already investigating the costs of the outage. The agency plans a hearing on the issue February 21 in Costa Mesa. 

Federal regulators earlier this week disclosed they are considering changing requirements set last year to restart the San Onofre nuclear power plant, another potential hurdle for the company that wants to return the troubled plant to service.

But NRC Deputy Regional Administrator Art Howell said in a Tuesday hearing  in Dana Point the agency is considering changing those requirements "as needed." He didn't elaborate.

Meanwhile, the NRC announced it was preparing a fresh round of technical questions for Southern California Edison about its restart proposal.

Edison spokeswoman Jennifer Manfre said in an email the company :"will continue to respond to all questions and requests for information throughout this entire, thorough process."

Friends of the EarthSan Clemente GreenResidents Organized for Safe Environment and other groups want the plant shut down permanently. The groups also have told the NRC they want SCE to go through another licensing process before the plant is restarted.

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