Judge Makes Ruling on Secret Energy Regulator Meetings

A federal judge tentatively ruled Thursday that concerns about secret meetings in a foreign country between state energy regulators and utility companies is not within the jurisdiction of the federal courts.

The tentative ruling issued Thursday is still under submission, meaning Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo is still weighing the attorney’s arguments.

However, she tentatively told the court that she has no authority to force the California Public Utility Commission to roll back a deal leaving Southern California ratepayers on the hook for $5 billion.

If you live in San Diego County, you pay some of the highest bills for electricity in the nation.

Also, state utility regulators agreed for you to pay for the astronomical shutdown costs of the failed San Onofre plant.

Attorneys for a consumer advocacy group on Thursday argued in federal court that those regulators violated state and federal laws by meeting in secret in a luxury hotel in Poland to negotiate that settlement with the utility company. There, they agreed that ratepayers would absorb the costs of the failed nuclear generators instead of shareholders of the utility company.

CPUC’s attorneys argued in court that the closed-door meeting didn’t violate any laws or even the CPUC’s own policies because the head of the CPUC kept an open mind through the public meetings.

An attorney for a consumer advocacy group argues otherwise.

“The details of the settlement agreement inked out in Warsaw, Poland in March 2013 are virtually the same as what ultimately wound up being this settlement deal on the backs of ratepayers,” said Attorney Maria Severson.

CPUC’s attorneys declined to comment outside of court and did not return a request for comment on Thursday.

When asked by NBC7 if the secret meetings in Poland didn’t violate any state regulations or CPUC policies, why then was it never reported until it became a news story in the UT Watchdog, the attorneys replied “No comment.”

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