Court Says Ruling Stands on Nuclear Cost Overruns
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The Texas Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that Gulf States Utilities will not get a second chance to convince state regulators that GSU customers should pay an additional $1.4 billion in nuclear plant construction costs.
The Public Utility Commission, in an earlier rate case, allowed the Beaumont-based utility to put into electric rates $1.6 billion of construction costs at the River Bend nuclear power plant in Louisiana.
The commission left $1.45 billion in costs pending at the time.
Gulf States wanted to go back before the commission to try to add these costs to customers’ bills.
But that move was challenged by some southeast Texas cities served by GSU. The cities said it was unfair for the utility to have another chance to prove those expenditures were prudent construction costs.
A trial court agreed with the cities, but that decision was overturned by the Austin-based 3rd Court of Appeals.
On Wednesday, the Texas Supreme Court agreed with the trial court and the cities.
″We agree that the public utility regulatory scheme set forth by the Legislature provides that once is enough,″ Justice Lloyd Doggett wrote in the 7-2 majority.
Justices Raul Gonzalez and Eugene Cook dissented. Gonzalez said in his opinion that the PUC had not properly resolved the dispute, so GSU deserved another chance.