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San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant on the Hot Seat

The nuclear power plant, operated by SCE, has been out of commission since the end of January, when a leak was discovered in steam generating tubes in one of two reactors. The other unit was already shut down for planned maintenance, and it has not been

The California Public Utilities Commission will decide next week whether to open an investigation into the long-term outages at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, and whether to order a refund of utility customers' money, the commission announced today.

The issue will come before the commissioners at a meeting set for Oct. 25 in Irvine, according to the CPUC.

The nuclear power plant just south of Orange County has been out of commission since the end of January, when a leak was discovered in steam generating tubes in one of the two reactors. The other unit was already shut down for planned maintenance, and it has not been re-started.

The plant is operated by Southern California Edison.

The investigation would cover the causes of the outages, responses by utilities, the future of the units and impacts on "the provision of safe and reliable electric service at just and reasonable rates," according to the CPUC announcement.

While some opponents of the power plant are trying to stop it from going back into operation, others argue that ratepayers should at least be refunded for the time it sits idle.

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