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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has abruptly fired a lawyer who was pressing Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to reveal which pipelines it had tested for high pressure, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, as reported by SFGate.

The fired lawyer, Robert Cagen, was one of the leading attorneys in the commission's regulatory case against PG&E as a result of the 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in San Bruno.

Cagen was fired one day after the CPUC's legal staff backed away from Cagen's efforts to make PG&E account for which lines it tested with high-pressure water before the 2010 explosion. Cagen had protested the staff decision. He had handled regulatory matters for the commission for 35 years.

According to SFGate, critics said Cagen's firing "was the latest evidence that the commission is overly cozy with the utility it regulates." San Bruno city manager Connie Jackson said, "Bob Cagen is a dedicated public servant who we believe held the public interest in safety as a highest priority…. This is absolutely ridiculous."

The commission's decision to fire its own lawyer and snuggle up to a utility is consistent with its treatment of San Diego: attempting to get ratepayers to pay for damage caused by San Diego Gas & Electric in the 2007 fires, and pay for parts of the closing of San Onofre, which resulted from management blunders.

QUESTION: WHEN WILL GOVERNOR BROWN MOVE TO CLEAN UP THE CORRUPT CPUC?

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Comments

eastlaker June 8, 2014 @ 9:08 p.m.

That is a good question. Would it help to make this article a petition?

They must have a list of the oldest pipes. There must be some sort of concept of what needs to be upgraded. But do we know if they are following the recommendations of those who fully understand the state of the pipelines? It doesn't look like it, does it?

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Don Bauder June 9, 2014 @ 8:21 a.m.

eastlaker: It looks like the CPUC is fighting for ways to let PG&E off the hook on San Bruno with the smallest penalty possible. Oh, PG&E will have to pay -- the CPUC would not dare let them off the hook completely -- but the punishment won't fit the crime. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 June 9, 2014 @ 5:06 a.m.

Excellent question Don, CPUC/Utility corruption reached the threat to public safety due to criminal negligence stage at SONGS and with the PG&E gas pipeline deaths, this era must be ended now.

Either Brown acts today, or we must put Recall Brown on the next ballot so we can elect a Governor who will end these threats to public safety and the California economy.

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Don Bauder June 9, 2014 @ 8:23 a.m.

Anon92107: You hit both points perfectly. The CPUC is showing little to no interest in public safety: San Bruno and San Onofre are examples. And by shifting the payments to ratepayers instead of to shareholders where the blame belongs, the CPUC is hurting the California economy. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel June 9, 2014 @ 10:14 p.m.

Anon92107, there is no need to put a Recall Brown initiative on the next ballot. Just vote for the other guy in November.

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Don Bauder June 10, 2014 @ 7:26 a.m.

danfogel: But will the other guy be even more in the utilities' pockets? After all, he is a Republican. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel June 10, 2014 @ 11:09 a.m.

Don Bauder at this point, is the political affiliation of any relevance? by that I mean is a member of one party any more likely to to allow him/herself to be bought than a member of another party? In any case, my reply to anon92107 was at least 1/2 tongue in cheek. In California, the recall is completely separate election. The readers digest version is that if the initiative meets all of the requirements such as timing, number and validity of signatures, etc, the lieutenant governor has a specific time frame in which to schedule the recall election. And that was my point. Think Gray Davis in 2003. It's another election of Brown vs whomever wants to take his place and the winner is Governor, just as it is going to be in November. Brown received almost 55% of the votes in the primary and Kashkari barely got 19%. There would have to be more valid signatures in favor of holding a recall than actually voted against Brown in that primary. With the general election only 5 months away, is there any reason to think that the leading candidate to replace Brown would not still be a republican and probably the same one? So the choice in that election would be the same as it will be in November; vote for Brown or vote against him by voting for a republican. In any event, in my opinion at least, the chances of a recall petition against Brown ever succeeding are something less than little to none.

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Don Bauder June 10, 2014 @ 12:35 p.m.

danfogel: Kashkari headed the bank bailout of the Great Recession. That hardly appeals to voters. I agree: there would not be a successful recall petition against Brown. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel June 10, 2014 @ 3:27 p.m.

Yeah, an engineer who decides he needs an MBA, heads of to GS and then goes to work for Hank Paulson at the Treasury Dept, and then ends up pretty much as a bust a PIMCO is someone that I would have a hard time with, regardless of his political affiliation. And there is also one other thing to consider. With Democrats still having a large majority, though not a super majority, in both houses in Sacramento, the odds that a Republican could accomplish much of anything are pretty slim unless it fell in line with what the majority wants.

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Don Bauder June 11, 2014 @ 7:58 p.m.

danfogel: Right on both points. Kashkari has a dubious track record and Jerry Brown, having inherited the governorship from his daddy, is not likely to be recalled. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh June 9, 2014 @ 7:42 a.m.

That Brown hasn't taken action to fire Peavey already means that he will take no decisive action on this at all. He will not be recalled, and he will win reelection in November. Look forward to four more years of this ongoing scandal.

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Don Bauder June 9, 2014 @ 8:26 a.m.

Visduh: Brown may be getting hefty contributions from utilities. That's why he keeps Peevey there. Brown may be getting wads of cash from Wall Street, which loves the easy California utility regulation. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 June 9, 2014 @ 12:28 p.m.

Don, Brown just proves that corruption rules in Sacramento, as well as Washington and San Diego, and that democrats are no longer any better than republicans.

When are we going to stop calling it a democracy, now that we are the latest democracy to follow in the footsteps of Ancient Athens where Solon produced the first democracy, but they kept going back to oligarchies until they said the hell with it, which is what we are doing today? Far too few Americans even bother to vote anymore, we have in fact given up already.

No wonder Socrates drank the hemlock. The reality is that all institutions around the world have become corrupt and the power of money rules everything today.

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Don Bauder June 10, 2014 @ 7:29 a.m.

Anon92107: There is little doubt that we live in a corporate welfare state. I chuckle every time I hear so-called conservatives lament welfare. They hate welfare for the needy, but they are all for welfare for the superrich. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD June 9, 2014 @ 4:49 p.m.

Tip of the hat to Don Bauder and the San Diego Reader for taking the time to post this story that AGAIN points out how the CPUC is doing more to help the Big Utilities than they are to help protect ratepayers!

Face it, Utilities have the CPUC in their pocket and the proof is that the CPUC will not even allow discovery in the San Onofre case because there is documentation that PROVES that SCE knew they had design issues and built the 4 faulty replacement steam generators anyway! Now SCE is doing everything they can to stop the investigation and/or point blame for the multiple billion dollar debacle at MHI and/or the NRC. + If SoCal ratepayers do not get a full refund for SCE's San Onofre Debacle, then there is no justice in California and the Public needs to understand that Governor Brown is now a big part of the problem because he has packed the CPUC with Pro-Utility Regulators instead of people that will promote fairly for both ratepayers and the Utilities.

BTW: Note how the OCR requires a Facebook account to even post a comment: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/nrc-617412-boxer-documents.html?page=1

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danfogel June 9, 2014 @ 10:42 p.m.

captd/founder The proof that utilities have the CPUC in their pocket has been around for along time. If there had ever been any doubts, they were erased, at least in my mind,in 2002 when Gray Davis first appointed Peevey to the commission and then a short time later, appointed him President. I only started paying attention to the goings on at the cpuc in the late 90's, but since then there has never been a doubt in my mind that the cpuc is, despite what it's stated mission is, pro utility, not pro consumer. BTW, you forgot to mention that the OCR switched to a paywall over a year ago and they transitioned to Facebook for comments 3 yrs ago this fall. They would have implemented it sooner, but they were still under contract with they company that ran the commenting system.

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Don Bauder June 10, 2014 @ 7:35 a.m.

danfogel: The message that the CPUC is in the utilities' pockets is inching forward, but, unfortunately, still not grasped by the wide public. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel June 10, 2014 @ 11:11 a.m.

And i highly doubt that even 1% of the wide public can even name one member of the commission. Whether it's apathy or blissful ignorance, I don't know.

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Don Bauder June 10, 2014 @ 12:40 p.m.

danfogel: Apathy, ignorance -- both. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder June 10, 2014 @ 7:33 a.m.

CaptD: Yu are right: SCE knew there were design issues and went ahead anyway, with the crypto-slogan "Profits before Safety." And now, with CPUC help, the company is trying to smother the truth. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder June 10, 2014 @ 12:39 p.m.

CaptD: I think you can assume that ratepayers will pay a huge slug of the costs of San Onofre, even though management errors and greed brought it down. Ratepayers will never get a full refund for the calamity: ergo, under your reasoning, there will be no justice. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD June 10, 2014 @ 3:04 p.m.

From a NRC Blog: Even the Best Guidance Can Be Updated http://wp.me/p1fSSY-1pq

snip One area that needs major improvement is the Like-For-Like replacement criteria, since SCE made a mockery of the NRC by claiming that they were doing a Like-For-Like RSG replacement at San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant when in fact they were making major design changes that resulting in their 4 new RSG failing soon after installation, a situation that placed all of southern California at risk of a nuclear incident and/or nuclear accident!

Here is an industry document that describes most of the changes that they made while bragging that it was done as "Improving Like-For-Like” which was published just weeks before one of the four RSG’s started leaking radioactive core coolant from one of the soon to be discovered unprecedented amount of wear damaged RSG tubes.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/347889/col-nrc-tech-paper.pdf

BTW: Nobody can claim the article is bias since it was published by Nuclear Engineering International, just weeks before Unit 3 started leaking radioactive core coolant.

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Don Bauder June 10, 2014 @ 9:01 p.m.

CaptD: There has been a lot of debate on the supposed like-for-like deal. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD June 10, 2014 @ 3:07 p.m.

A question for Don:

Given one had the information that described why San Onofre failed, what would be the best method to share it with the public?

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Don Bauder June 10, 2014 @ 9:02 p.m.

CaptD: I think the best method is to share it with the Reader audience. If national exposure is needed, the Reader might be a launching pad. Best, Don Bauder

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