San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre today (March 18) held a press conference to denounce the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for denying him intervenor fees in his recent battle against San Diego Gas & Electric's attempt to get ratepayers to cover the company's uninsured costs of the 2007 fires. A CPUC unit has held the San Diego utility responsible for those fires.
As reported here March 6, Aguirre had requested intervenor fees of $224,545 as costs of his work on the case. As Aguirre pointed out today, the CPUC's conflicts of interest are legion. The administrative law judge on the case, Maribeth Bushey, who continuallly interrupted and harassed Aguirre during the hearing, is a former employee of SDG&E. The head of the CPUC is Mike Peevey, former president of Southern California Edison.
Aguirre uncovered some blatant falsifications that were key to the ultimate decision and saved ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars. For example, SDG&E, Edison, and Pacific Gas & Electric initially claimed that they could not get adequate insurance. After Aguirre proved that was not true, Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric dropped out.
Critically, in December of 2012, SDG&E, with the help of a friendly CPUC commissioner, tried to pull an outrageous scam. The subject at hand was supposed to be indemnification for future insurance costs. But the CPUC quietly — at the last minute — slipped in a change in former commissioner Timothy Alan Simon's opinion. The focus was no longer on future insurance costs. Suddenly, SDG&E wanted a bundle of money for the 2007 costs — which was not the subject of the discussion. Aguirre caught that and ended it.
The CPUC got its revenge by denying Aguirre any intervenor fees. In this week's rebuttal, Aguirre lashed the corrupt regulator's modus operandi: "favoritism and reward for conformity, compounded by retaliation for zealous advocacy."