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Melanie Darling, the California Public Utilities Commission administrative law judge handling the San Onofre decommissioning matter, stated yesterday (August 5) that in the period leading to the decision to stick ratepayers with 70 percent of almost $5 billion in costs, Southern California Edison violated regulatory rules by not reporting meetings that should have been reported.

She ordered Edison to file notices of these ex parte communications, and also ordered Edison to show cause why it should not be sanctioned for dubious statements of its executives.

Peevey did all the talking

The judge focused on the now-infamous secret huddle between Mike Peevey, then president of the commission (who is under state and federal criminal investigation), and Stephen Pickett, then a top Edison executive, now retired. The clandestine meeting took place in Warsaw, Poland, on March 26, 2013. Edison reported it had taken place two years later. Two Pickett statements were "misleading," says the judge. First, he claimed that Edison did not report the meeting because Peevey did all the talking. The judge said that other statements cast that one in doubt.

"Working San Onofre"

Pickett filled out a declaration stating that he had dinner with Peevey the following night and Peevey "may have mentioned" the San Onofre matter. But in an internal email, he boasted that he was "working [San Onofre]" with Peevey at the dinner. The statements were misleading, Darling said. Pickett had a dinner with Peevey a month later and called it "social." But Pickett scheduled a meeting with a senior Edison attorney immediately after the dinner. Darling questions that explanation.

Ron Litzinger, a top Edison official also had clandestine meetings that should have been reported, Darling said, stating in detail why his comments were questionable.

She ruled that Edison must show why it should not be held in contempt of the commission and sanctioned.

The irony is that those who have been battling this "rape of the ratepayer" have questions about Judge Darling's role, too.

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Comments

Visduh Aug. 6, 2015 @ 10:27 a.m.

The U-T today gave this story top front-page coverage. That would have been most unlikely if Dougie were still publisher. In fact, it does appear that the Watchdog reporting staff is capable of investigative and scandal reporting, something that wasn't obvious for a long time. I'll even quit calling them "Lapdogs."

A deeper look at this ruling reveals that many more matters have been ignored so far. Aguirre and Severson are still pursuing details. One thing Darling didn't do was call for the settlement to be overturned, and that's what needs to happen.

The CPUC needs to start over with its investigation and examination of those failed heat-exchangers, and the decision by SCE to shut down SONGS. All that has gone before is tainted, and will stay tainted.

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Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 2:06 p.m.

Diogenes: Yes, Visduh has pieced together this anti-consumer activity -- one of history's worst examples of "regulatory capture," or regulators doing the bidding of the utilities whom they are supposed to regulate, not mollycoddle. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 2:03 p.m.

Visduh: The story merited top coverage in the U-T this morning. The Reader would have had it yesterday afternoon, but computer problems delayed the posting.

Yes, many, many more details need to come out. It certainly appears that the CPUC is joining Edison in the coverup of this entire scheme. It is clear that, as Mike Aguirre charged presciently in May of 2014, the commission and Edison reached this "rape of the ratepayer" decision through a large number of clandestine, illegal meetings and phone calls. The role of the administrative law judge, Melanie Darling, has to be unearthed. There is evidence that she was in on this secret decision-making process.

The CPUC cannot do an investigation. Too many of its own employees were in on this -- and in on similar travesties, such as the attempt to get PG&E off easy after the San Bruno tragedy. Only the criminal investigators can dig adequately into this. Best, Don Bauder

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Diogenes Aug. 6, 2015 @ 10:28 a.m.

The judge had some ex parte contacts, but she claims that these contacts were about scheduling, not substantive issues. But she sure seems like she is very biased in favor of private utilities. She should recuse herself. Her emails are being sought in a criminal investigation while she is ruling on motions for sanctions for ex parte communications. Her ex parte communications? You have to just take her word for these. We should never have to just take an administrative law judge's word for anything. She is an unelected judge. There is no avenue for an appeal.

She should overturn the entire settlement and recuse herself.

2

Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 2:10 p.m.

Diogenes: As I have said, the CPUC is incapable of investigating this, and of overturning the entire settlement. This can only happen after the criminal investigations are complete, the legislature has demanded the decision be overturned based on that evidence, and a number of CPUC officials be replaced (and some imprisoned). Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Aug. 6, 2015 @ 2:55 p.m.

Don - Diogenes is 100% correct, until ALJ Darling overturns the entire settlement and recuses herself, she will not only remain part of the problem but will remain tainted by #SanOnofreGate *.

If she on the other hand, she does indeed overturn the entire settlement and also recuses herself, then she will be seen as someone that got caught up in the discussions with SCE (who then tried to maneuver her into limiting the "reasonableness" investigation of SCE's operation of San Onofre) by holding her own ex parte conversations "over her head" if she did not play along with SCE.

Now by hitting back at SCE (by deciding to "sanction" SCE for dubious statements of its executives) she is attempting to distance herself from those that did have ex parte "meetings versus all those that had ex parte "conversations". This action will buy her some time in order for her to "see how the dust settles" and she can always later recuse herself if it looks like things are going poorly for her, regarding her "involvement".

I believe this is just the first of many well calculated maneuvers we will see as all those involved in #SanOnofreGate try their best to sidestep being held in any way responsible for either impeding Justice and/or the "raping" of millions of SoCal ratepayers for anywhere from 3 to 7 BILLION dollars, depending upon what is counted!

The other "wild card" is the ongoing investigation that is being done OUTSIDE of the CPUC, and that investigation may provide the FIRE that sets #SanOnofreGate ablaze, since once it becomes known to the attorney General and others that BOTH ex parte discussions and also ex parte meetings were routinely being held, it will not only inviolate the one sided San Onofre "Settlement" but potentially result in criminal charges being filed.

BTW: SDG&E has until now been trying very hard to stay in the shadows, but I believe that their emails will also be required to be turned over to investigators, which will then show that SDG&E also had ex parte conversations and/or meeting; so they not only knew about these SCE/CPUC meetings but SDG&E was a party to them (in the very least by "daisy chaining") as they all tried to figure out how to (behind the scenes) best "settle" this investigation in their favor.

  • The new hashtag that will allow you to keep up to date on the ongoing investigation into the multi-billion $ SCE-CPUC ripoff.
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Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 3:05 p.m.

CaptD: You make trenchant points. The CPUC staff, Darling, and of course Edison are involved in this up to their noses. It appears that SDG&E is, too. The telltale emails may reveal much. Best, Don Bauder

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Diogenes Aug. 6, 2015 @ 5:12 p.m.

CaptD,

Yes, the fact that Darling sees that egregious misconduct occurred that unduly influenced the outcome of the hearings should be grounds to set aside the settlement itself. That is the only just remedy. She should sanction SCE, too.

The issue of "prudent operation" was relegated to Phase Three. The settlement was premature before the issue of fault (prudent operation) could be heard. That was intentional to cover up the extreme endangerment of public safety. The nuclear power cartels do not want the public to know that profits are placed over safety. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd fabricated replacement steam generator tubes to SCE specs. These replacement parts were knowingly used in the reactors by SCE. The NRC was told that these replacements were "equivalent." Clearly, they were not.

The arbitration between Mitsubishi and SCE is all for show.

We are talking about public safety and nuclear reactors. The powers that be want it all swept under the rug.

Wait until Americans face a Chernobyl or a Fukushima Daiichi. Three Mile Island was a picnic compared to those events.

It is time to stop this cover up. This is the 70th anniversity of events in Japan. We have Hanford, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and WiPP with nuclear waste we cannot ever make safe. We are updating our nuclear arsenal with trillions of dollars.

I can predict how this will all end.

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Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 9:20 p.m.

Diogenes: The trouble is that the courts are biased toward regulators and the laws make it difficult for suits to be heard. This is, indeed, a massive coverup. It is more obvious each time new information comes forth, such as yesterday. Yes, the judge's action was a wrist slap, but it set an important precedent.

Edison has gone too far to backtrack from its previous lies. It has to stick to its extremely weak story. Ditto for the CPUC. For an intelligent person, this is over. It's clear what happened. But will our judicial system be able to tackle this? Best, Don Bauder

1

Twister Aug. 7, 2015 @ 12:32 a.m.

But will they be slapped enough to not only compensate but to pay fines and damages, get some disbarred and/or sent to prison, and stimulate legislation that at least requires such fiefdoms to be composed of elected citizens who can attend every meeting and read all the detail they want on a website?

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Don Bauder Aug. 7, 2015 @ 1:31 p.m.

Twister: Obviously, all of us who have been involved with this (I have for several years) fear that the CPUC will first try to settle this with a wrist slap or a sanction with no bite. The solution is criminal penalties, and mass firings at the CPUC and Edison, and perhaps SDG&E. Peevey destroyed any teeth the agency had -- and he had plenty of help from Edison, of which he was once president.

The entire episode is another shameful example of crony capitalism. Best, Don Bauder

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swell Aug. 6, 2015 @ 5:27 p.m.

CaptD,

Appreciate your insight. About the #SanOnofreGate that repeats in your comment, I am wondering if this refers to some private secret part of the internet. Can you point to any public part of the internet with further information? It's bad enough I have to have a username & password to enter here and 100 other places; I don't want to join a private club to get public information. Thanks, I always find your thoughts informative.

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CaptD Aug. 7, 2015 @ 11:35 a.m.

swell - Enter #SanOnofreGate into the twitter search box and you will get a huge listing of comments and article with links all about San Onofre! Thanks for asking!

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swell Aug. 6, 2015 @ 5:34 p.m.

re UCAN

I know they've had their problems and now are probably suffering reduced support from donations. But I wonder where they stand on the CPUC issues and if they are able to contribute to an equitable solution. Is there any possibility that they could support Mike Aguirre with his aggressive stance? I don't hear much about that San Francisco consumer organization either lately- are they helping? Let's identify the Forces of Good and Evil in this mess, and support those forces that we agree with.

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Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 9:24 p.m.

swell: UCAN supported the rape of the ratepayer and slammed Aguirre. It wrote a U-T op-ed supporting the ratepayer rape. It got richly rewarded with intervenor fees for doing so. I would say UCAN is irrelevant now. Best, Don Bauder

2

Twister Aug. 7, 2015 @ 12:36 a.m.

EVERYBODY: Charles Langley, who blew the whistle and got a fifty percent pay cut and is losing his house, is starting a more comprehensive watchdog organization. Get his phone number from Aguirre's website and call him and offer support.

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Don Bauder Aug. 7, 2015 @ 1:34 p.m.

Twister: Charles Langley has been very useful to those of us battling the rape of the ratepayer. Best, Don Bauder

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Diogenes Aug. 6, 2015 @ 5:38 p.m.

The replacement steam generators were more correctly designed by Mitsubishi but were to be tested by SCE after they were installed. That is right in the contract. This means that a dangerous experiment was being carried out with the population of Southern California being endangered. This is what must be covered up.

Experimenting in this fashion is unethical for engineers and illegal on many levels. The therefore deal had to be done in Warsaw, Poland. SCE never wants this information to see the light of day. They still have unreleased data that has been demanded by safety advocates. So what are they hiding?

I have written engineering opinions for these assertions. These are not just my opinions.

Let's set aside the settlement and determine the issue of lack of prudence and then allocate most of the 3.3 billion dollars in losses back to SCE shareholders. They can then sue the officers and directors and lawfirms responsible. Nuclear safety - that oxymoron - will thus be promoted. The rule of law and order will be restored. Ratepayers rights will be protected.

Nuclear power must be transparent so that profits are never placed over safety. Better yet, get rid of the weapons and this form of generating electricity.

1

Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 9:27 p.m.

Diogenes: Yes, commonsense safety has been forgotten in all this. A mass of nuclear waste still sits there. But I would like to take one issue at a time. Get some CPUC officials in prison first, get the legislature to clean out the CPUC, and then go after the safety issue. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Aug. 7, 2015 @ 12:09 p.m.

Diogenes - The Replacement Steam Generator (RSG) Project were designed by a team of both MHI and SCE engineers with SCE having the final say and it was their licensed CA Engineers that put their "chop" on them, which means that SCE "designed" them, the rest is finger pointing. In fact SCE told MHI that everything about the project was to be approved by them first and that HMI was not to talk to anybody including the NRC without getting the OK from SCE.

This was done in order to get them built quickly without a full NRC 50.90 review which would have include a public review process.. By using the NRC 50.59 process aka Like-For-Like SCE told eh NRC and everyone else that it was an identical exchange, so no reviews were required. We know this was false and can even point our an nuclear industry article where SCE's engineer along with an MHI engineer bragged about all the changes they made, anyone of which should have required a full 50.90 review. NRC Region IV that OK'd the 50.59 got all kinds of egg on their face and it pointed out that the onsite inspectors were too cozy with SCE, since the RSG failed soon after being installed, thanks to both their poor unproven design and how they were being operated by SCE!

The operation of these RSG's outside their NRC approved specifications will be THE KEY issue that will convince everyone that their failure is SCE fault, since ratepayers had nothing to do with their operation!

Another reason why SCE must turn over their operational records is that they will prove that SCE's operators were "experimenting" by adjusting the operational parameters in an attempt to figure out how to get the RSG to work without them causing internal "noises," that were in fact the 9,747 steam generator tubes tightly packed inside each of the RSG striking each other and/or their supports as the tubes vibrated, causing "tube wear". This was very dangerous because if one or more tubes failed the high pressure radioactive reactor core coolant inside them would "flash" to steam and escape into the atmosphere! The NRC still assumes that not more than a single tube can fail at a time, which San Onofre proved is an invalid assumption since after the entire RSG system was shut down, a number of tubes failed in situ (in-place) testing. Until the "root cause" of San Onofre is determined other US steam generator may also be at risk, since a "cascade" of tube failures could easily vent so much of the reactor coolant, so fast from the reactor core and that it could cause a meltdown of the reactor!

Having followed this closely since 01/31/12, I can say that we were very, very lucky to not have had a nuclear incident and/or a nuclear accident at San Onofre despite all the "feel good" talk from SCE. If the "leak" had occurred during a large earthquake along with some other things we could have had a SoCal Fukushima, which would have easily exceed the Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster Japan is now dealing with!

0

Don Bauder Aug. 7, 2015 @ 1:44 p.m.

CaptD: Your statement is NOT hyperbole. Edison evaded the testing with the complicity of the commission. That was breaking the law. Edison clearly broke the law with its clandestine meetings with CPUC officials (particularly Peevey). Edison put Southern California in danger -- in fact, it is now in danger with that nuclear waste in the ground.

I repeat that criminal penalties are urgently necessary if the CPUC and the investor-owned utilities -- PG&E, Edison, and SDG&E -- are ever to play by the rules. The threat of more jailings may deter this kind of activity. Best, Don Bauder

0

Visduh Aug. 6, 2015 @ 6 p.m.

Wow, this is taking on a life of its own. Darling is definitely trying to create some distance, but in doing so may be digging herself in even deeper. Her first move should have been to recuse herself, for sure. (I'd think the next step would have been to contact the FBI--since we cannot assume the AG is really trying to find wrongdoing--and become a cooperating informant. But there's no indication she did that.) Well, this entire mess will keep us all interested for many years to come.

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Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 9:30 p.m.

Visduh: I can't imagine Darling has given any information to investigators. I do not think she will unless she is given a free pass. Can she hide behind the Fifth Amendment? Dunno. Neither does she, probably, at this juncture. Best, Don Bauder

0

Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 9:31 p.m.

Twister: That pun is not up to your usual standard. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Aug. 7, 2015 @ 12:38 a.m.

True, but at least you're noticing . . .

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CaptD Aug. 7, 2015 @ 12:13 p.m.

Twister - Please don't punish Don . . .

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Don Bauder Aug. 7, 2015 @ 3:01 p.m.

Twister: I notice all your posts. Indeed, I post a response to them. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Aug. 6, 2015 @ 6:29 p.m.

Spread Langley's word:

What ratepayers can do:

Commissioners are appointed by the Governor. Ratepayers are urged to call Governor Jerry Brown and demand a rehearing and an independent investigation onto the corruption of his appointed officials at the California Public Utilities Commission.

Just DO it!

Yes, I'm trying to twist your arm!

Best, Twister

PS: But this story needs much wider dissemination. Yes, even wider than the (reformed?) San Diego Union and Reader. What we really need is to jam the Governor's switchboard in a coordinated call-up. Social media? A protest? A concise, referenced leaflet?

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Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 9:34 p.m.

Twister: The story is good enough that national media should get on it. Unfortunately, they often bypass San Diego. This is an excellent example of regulatory capture. Best, Don Bauder

1

Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 9:34 p.m.

Twister: Yes, it's too late for him to take this one on. Best, Don Bauder

0

Don Bauder Aug. 6, 2015 @ 9:35 p.m.

Charles Langley: I recommend that everyone the document he posted. Best, Don Bauder

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Diogenes Aug. 7, 2015 @ 6:12 a.m.

Don Bauder,

The SONGS settlement is a hit for.the ratepayers. It speaks volumes on regulatory capture. But never forget that the other purpose of this settlement was to cover up the fact that the operator endangered the people in Southern California. The quest for the operating data to prove this continues. Aguirre and Severson are involved in this quest. You may think that the issue of nuclear safety is somehow peripheral, but the more you understand about the reasons for the closure of SONGS, and the endangerment of the people of Southern California, the more you will understand the national importance of this story.

Your point that the judicial system may be incapable of providing a remedy for ratepayers is beyond dispute. The NRC was unable to have hearings because of the decision to close SONGS. There was no meltdown, so there will be no lawsuit there. And the Mitsubishi arbitration will not yield public information. But SCE is still holding data about the two reactors that prove that they were experimenting with replacement steam generators. Those experimentations, according to my experts, created a clear and present danger to Southern California residents. Senator Boxer understands this completely. But with the Republican takeover, she lost power to further investigate this issue. That is where the press comes in.

I hate to see ratepayers get screwed over; but the public endangerment is the big issue going forward because there are a dozen or so other reactors in use of a similar design, and these sorts of shenanigans are a pattern that could cost trillions of dollars and kill and injure many people. Once the unreleased data proving my point becomes public, the more you will be grateful that you did not live in San Diego had the worst case scenario actually happened at SONGS. It was closer that you know.

How many close calls do we need in this industry? Experimenting with replacement steam generators is the cause of the closure. That was the purpose of Phase Three. The closure prevented NRC investigation; the PUC went along with a premature settlement to avoid the Phase Three investigation, Boxer lost her chair, and the Mitsubishi arbitration is private and a show.trial. The criminal investigations are about judge shopping and contributions to non-profit organizations, not safety issues.

SCE is refusing to produce this data because they claim, they are "too busy"and that it is "proprietary." This is the BIG story. I hope that Aguirre and Severson, Langley and Lutz get paid for their tireless efforts. I hope that the ratepayers do not get stuck with a few more bucks on their bill. But the necessity of digging down into that withheld data involves public safety issues much much larger than a few bucks more on our utility bills.

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Don Bauder Aug. 7, 2015 @ 3:09 p.m.

Diogenes: I don't think public safety is THE issue going forward. We must make a national example of the Edison/ CPUC illegal collusion. It is the very model of regulatory capture. Then we must work, as you point out, on the safety issue. Decisions on safety were fraught with fraud also. Best, Don Bauder

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Diogenes Aug. 7, 2015 @ 6:18 a.m.

Get the emails, then get the data they are hiding, then follow the money.

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Don Bauder Aug. 7, 2015 @ 3:11 p.m.

Diogenes: Yes, this is another case in which one must follow the money. There is a pot of badly tarnished gold at the end of the rainbow. Best, Don Bauder

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Diogenes Aug. 7, 2015 @ 9:02 a.m.

The Randolph Declaration is a game-changer, says Aguirre. Today's Union Tribune article explains.

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Don Bauder Aug. 7, 2015 @ 3:13 p.m.

Diogenes: Yes, I recommend that people read that declaration by Randolph in today's (Aug. 7) U-T. Best, Don Bauder

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