PORTLAND, Ore. -- Portland General Corp., the parent company of Portland General Electric Co., is considering buying a California nuclear plant closed by voters last month.
Portland General is interested in acquiring the Rancho Seco nuclear power plant, which was closed by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District three weeks ago after voters decided it should be shut down, PGE spokesman Steve Sautter said Tuesday.
The announcement prompted a warning from California anti-nuclear activists that they might consider coming to Oregon to help run a campaign to shut down PGE's Trojan nuclear plant north of Portland, the only nuclear plant in the state.
'PGE will pay a heavy price if they decide to meddle in Sacramento, Calif., politics,' said Bob Mulholland, political director of Campaign California, which spearheaded the drive to close Rancho Seco.
'We had an election, we won, Rancho Seco is closed,' said Mulholland, who was in Salem Tuesday.
PGE is the primary private utility serving most of the Portland metropolitan area. The PGE acquisition, if approved, would be part of an agreement to sell power to the Sacramento utility district.
'We're looking for long-term power sales to SMUD to meet their electrical needs,' Sautter said.
A formal proposal to acquire the plant probably would be submitted Friday, if Portland General decides to submit abid, he said.
'It's possible no proposal will be made,' Sautter said.
Mulhollland said the acquisition could be costly for Portland General, its subsidiaries and Oregon ratepayers.
'We will take them to court and to a November 1989 ballot in Sacramento. It will cost PGE's ratepayers in Oregon millions of dollars if they attempt this,' he said. 'PGE's interests in Rancho Seco would be an attempt to circumvent that initiative and the one passed by Sacramento voters on June 6, 1989.'
The California election marked the first time voters closed an active nuclear plant.
The Sacramento utility district board decided last week the voters' decision does not prevent private utilities from operating the 15-year-old facility. Portland General Electric Co. is Oregon's largest electric utility.
Rancho Seco was designed by Bechtel Corp. of San Francisco, which also designed PGE's Trojan nuclear plant at Rainier, Oregon's only nuclear power plant.
'PGE should be warned that if they follow through with this plan we will be more than happy to send our campaign team to Oregon to help run the campaign against their Trojan plant, which has numerous problems of its own,' Mulholland said.
Campaign California is chaired by California Assemblyman Tom Hayden and claims 70,000 members. Hayden, D-Santa Monica, is the husband of actress and political activist Jane Fonda.
Ted Hallock, One of Oregon's representatives on the Northwest Power Planning Council, said, 'I think it's rather sad that anyone would see fit to buy it in contravention of the wishes of the voters.'
'It's sad. I'm disheartened by that fact,' said Hallock, an Oregon state senator from 1963 to 1983.
Oregonians voted in 1980 to require that voters approve any licensing of a nuclear plant and a utility have a waste dump before it can operate a nuclear power plant.
That decision by voters does not prohibit an Oregon company from operating a nuclear plant outside the state, however.
Hallock warned that if Portland General does move to acquire Rancho Seco, it could cause a backlash from anti-nuclear groups in Oregon that already would like to see Trojan shut down.
'Portland General Electric probably would face a statewide plebiscite brought out by the anti-nuclear people,' he said. 'It could very well shut down Trojan, if it passes.'