PG&E’s request to charge for Diablo Canyon license renewal costs rejected

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described how PG&E was planning to use a rate increase. The company wanted the rate hike to pay for license renewal costs for Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, not offshore seismic studies.

The state Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday formally dismissed a motion by PG&E to assess ratepayers $85 million to pay for costs associated with renewing the operating licenses at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The ruling allows the utility to reopen the proceedings after seismic studies are complete, which is expected to happen by the end of 2015.

Completion of the studies is a prerequisite for renewing the plant’s operating licenses for an additional 20 years, to 2044 and 2045.

PG&E asked that the application be suspended, but the commission denied this. A suspension would have required the commission to issue a new order every 60 days.

“This is an unnecessary burden with no practical purpose,” the commission ruled. “A motion to reopen this proceeding serves the same purpose.”

The utility will file to reopen when the time is right, said Tom Cuddy, PG&E spokesman.

The commission also denied a request to require the utility to file a new application.

“The motion to reopen preserves the record in this proceeding,” the commission ruled.

Since a deadly gas line explosion in San Bruno and the Fukushima earthquake in Japan, PG&E has been under increasing pressure to ensure the seismic safety of Diablo Canyon.

Local elected officials and nuclear watchdog groups have urged that state agencies provide independent oversight of the seismic review.