Multi-Billion Nuke Burial Fund Allowed Greater Risk

By Published On: January 25, 2013

A decision on managing over $5 billion in ratepayer funds to handle, in perpetuity, the state’s nuclear plants was approved Jan. 24 without comment by the California Public Utilities Commission. Amounting to a few pennies on individual monthly bills, the funds are entrusted to a panel of non-utility investors to cover final burial of nuclear power plants and associated waste. Over the last three decades, that amount has been invested in conservative bonds, and grown to what many think may cover ultimate burial of nuclear waste. This decision allows the funds to be invested in lower-grade bonds and higher risk equities, such as derivatives. The commission also doubles the allowance for management fees of the trusts “We see it as a potentially adverse return” on ratepayer investment, said Mark Pocta, Division of Ratepayer Advocates program manager. “We don’t agree that it reduces risk.” For instance, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has $2.679 billion available for its ultimate burial as of mid-2012, according to the commission.

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