The California Public Utilities Commission July 14 approved paying an independent panel $250,000. The panel vetted the price utilities assign to their nuclear power plant decommissioning plans--a mission that may end up costing over $6 billion. The panel’s work stemmed from requests by environmentalists and consumer advocates for an outside investigation into the disparity between Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric future cost expectations. In general, those stakeholders guessed that Edison’s estimate--at $3.6 billion--was a more accurate representation than PG&E’s--at $1.8 billion. The panel found, in part, because Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is on military property, the standard for cleanup is stricter than for PG&E, which owns the land where Diablo Canyon is located. The volume of San Onofre radioactive waste disposal is expected to be more than twice Diablo’s. Diablo has two reactors. San Onofre used to have three, but is now down to two operating reactors. The third reactor is kept on site because it could not be transported to a burial site. Another cost discrepancy is the difference in utilities’ personnel severance costs, as well as a difference in security for the facilities.