On May 14, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held an evidentiary hearing on a deal that would permit Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) to sock ratepayers for $3.3 billion over mistakes made by Edison and/or its supplier at the now-shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.
May 14 meeting
"I'm not here to answer your goddamn question…"
Negotiations over the settlement took nine months, but the evidentiary hearing lasted only three and a half hours; ratepayers got only 40 minutes to state their case. San Diego media covered the story well, focusing heavily on Michael Peevey, head of the CPUC, shouting at ratepayer advocate Mike Aguirre, "I'm not here to answer your goddamn question. Now shut up! Shut up!"
I was on vacation when all this occurred, but I would like to add my belated interpretation. Peevey, a former lobbyist and president of Edison, was frustrated because, as Aguirre says, "Their case is in complete disarray."
The CPUC, which is supposed to protect ratepayers, only worries about utility profits, and this was evident in the record of that hearing. Peevey was upset because Aguirre had forced Edison's president, Ronald Litzinger, to confess that critical information was not in front of the commission.
For example, Litzinger admitted that there is nothing in the record about Edison's admission that it had determined there were errors in the design of steam generators. Nor, admitted Litzinger, is there anything in the record establishing the sufficiency of the investigation by the parties to the settlement. Litzinger claimed Edison had acted prudently, but the record does not show that, he admitted.
And so it went. It was clear that the CPUC has pathetically inadequate information on which to make a decision. The administrative law judge tried to thwart Aguirre's tough questioning and consistently belittled him. The judge was obviously trying to keep the devastating lack of information out of the hearing.
Edison did not have a license to operate a steam generator without having a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Edison admitted that but ignored it.
CPUC meeting, January 8, 2013
"SF CPUC Judge [Darling] Goes Off & Out of Control…"
The adminstrative law judge, Melanie Darling, upbraided Aguirre for misquoting her. He said she had said there was a settlement conference. She claimed she said no such thing. But the accompanying video excerpts, provided by Ray Lutz of Citizens Oversight, shows clearly that the judge said exactly what Aguirre said she had said.
"Her behavior was not as a judge, but as an advocate under the auspices of Peevey," says Aguirre. At one point Darling said Aguirre had no right to ask questions of Peevey and another commissioner, because they were not under oath. But both commissioners did answer the questions — evasively, to be sure — and Aguirre says people do not have to be under oath when asked if something should disqualify them as impartial judges.
I suggest you watch the video excerpts. It is clear this whole matter is fixed. But the case is so flimsy that even the corrupt, anti-consumer CPUC might realize it has to reconsider this rush to judgment.
Oh, yes. Peevey was president of Edison and its parent, Edison International. When he got the job, San Diegans were shocked because he had completely bungled Edison's attempt to take over SDG&E in the early 1990s. But he only lasted fewer than three years in the top job and "retired" in 1993 at the age of 54.