State Judge Finds Rule Violations in CPUC, SoCal Edison Meetings on San Onofre Closure - NBC 7 San Diego

State Judge Finds Rule Violations in CPUC, SoCal Edison Meetings on San Onofre Closure

Penalties for the possible ethics violations could total more than $34 million

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    State Judge Finds Rule Violations in CPUC, SoCal Edison Meetings on San Onofre Closure
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    Meetings between former CPUC President Michael Peevey (top) and SCE’s then-Executive Vice President of External Relations, Stephen Pickett (bottom) were mentioned in the judge's ruling.

    Executives with Southern California Edison had several unreported communications related to the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, a state judge has found.

    Activists and consumer groups have criticized what they consider to be an inappropriate relationship between SoCal Edison and top California Public Utilities Commission officials.

    On Wednesday, Administrative Judge Melanie M. Darling ruled the utility’s officials engaged in 10 unreported exchanges between March of 2013 and June 2014.

    The review was prompted by one or more meetings between former CPUC President Michael Peevey and SCE’s then-Executive Vice President of External Relations, Stephen Pickett.

    For example, when describing a dinner between the two in March 2013, Pickett said he “didn’t recall anything of substance” said about the shutdown of the nuclear power plant.

    However, an internal email shows Pickett said “he was ‘working SONGS’ with President Peevey at the dinner,” according to the ruling.

    Improper or unreported communications between commissioners and interested persons can taint the regulatory process and so the CPUC adopted rules in 1991 to avoid the practice.

    The judge has ordered SoCal Edison to show why it should not be held in contempt and sanctioned.

    Penalties for the possible ethics violations could total more than $34 million.

    San Diego critics consider CPUC financial settlements in the $4.7 billion deal for the shutdown and cleanup of the San Onofre plant "a sellout" from the standpoint of ratepayers.

    In March, Anthony Rendon, chair of the Assembly Committee on Utilities, sent a letter to the Picker, asking for an investigation into the “dark clouds of the SONGS settlement,” which left ratepayers on the hook for $3.3 billion for the plant’s closure.