Regulators Should Release Brown Emails on San Onofre Nuclear Plant: Judge

A judge says it would be "the right thing" to reveal how San Onofre closure costs would be split between shareholders and customers

A San Francisco judge urged state regulators to release emails about a multibillion-dollar deal with two utilities that shut down the San Onofre nuclear plant in San Diego County.

Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith said the Public Utilities Commission should "do the right thing" and reveal information about what went into a deal that would cost Southern California utility customers more than $3.3 billion, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Sunday.

At a Nov. 5 court hearing, Goldsmith acknowledged that he may be powerless to force the commission to turn over the emails involving Gov. Jerry Brown and the president of the regulatory agency's governing board, Michael Picker. But he still urged the agency to still disclose the documents and set another hearing for Dec. 9.

The utilities commission approved an agreement last year with the nuclear plant's co-owners, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric Co., to close the facility after radioactive steam leaked in January 2012, revealing widespread damage to San Onofre's cooling system.

Under the deal, the firms' customers must shoulder about 70 percent of the $4.7 billion cost of the shutdown.

Mike Aguirre, a San Diego attorney, sued the commission, arguing that customers' share of the costs was too high. He went to court to block the deal after learning that the commission's former president and a Southern California Edison executive had met secretly in a hotel in Warsaw, Poland, to come up with the framework for the agreement.

Aguirre filed lawsuits under open records laws and learned that the agency had withheld about 130 emails involving either Picker or Brown related to the San Onofre closure.

The commission says it doesn't have to release the emails because they were part of the agency's internal decision-making process about the settlement, which is an exception under open records laws. They also say that all of Brown's communications with the commission are privileged because he is the governor.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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