Ratepayers have sued Southern California Edison Co. and state electric power regulators for $3 billion in federal court over allegations the defendants have illegally collected millions in monthly electric bills from more than 17 million customers since a nuclear power plant was shuttered last year.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Diego, asks for restitution for the customers whose money is being taken without "just compensation," the Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday.
The claim argues that the since January 2012, when steam generators at the plant first broke down, the defendants have forced ratepayers to absorb the $700 million cost of the failed steam generator project and pay more than $3 billion for the idled plant.
Attorneys for plaintiffs Citizens Oversight Inc. and eight individual ratepayers argue that the defendants can't charge the ratepayers because the process they used for obtaining and installing the generators was flawed and unsafe.
Representatives from both the California Public Utilities Commission and Edison declined to comment to the Times and said they had not seen the lawsuit.
The legal action is the latest protest by activist ratepayers over a proposed agreement that would divvy up the cost of the plant's failure between ratepayers and Edison stockholders.
The proposal, which could go before the five-member state commission as early as this week, would seek $3.3 billion over 10 years from utility customers and $1.4 billion from stockholders.
The massive, 2,200-megawatt plant in San Onofre generated enough power to run nearly 3 million Southern California homes.