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Picked at and peeved

Group alleges mischief done by new public utilities commissioner

Michael Picker and Michael Peevey
Michael Picker and Michael Peevey

State and federal investigators are looking into whether critical decisions of the California Public Utilities Commission were made in secret by Michael Peevey, retired president of the regulatory body.

Now, a group known as Protect Our Communities is making a persuasive case that the same kind of mischief is going on under Michael Picker, Peevey's successor.

On March 6, an administrative law judge, after exhaustive study, ruled that a gas-fired plant in Carlsbad, desired by San Diego Gas & Electric, is not needed. For environmental reasons, such plants are undesirable. But on April 6, Picker issued an alternative decision that would approve the plant and only modestly reduce the power it would produce.

Yesterday (April 27), Protect Our Communities denounced Picker's proposed alternative decision. The organization detects a whiff of the utilities commission's long-standing malodorous tactics, which observers hoped would blow away with Peevey's departure.

"The likely outcome" of this alternative decision "had been determined before San Diego Gas & Electric's application was filed," says Protect Our Communities. The configuration of the plant suggested by Picker "was communicated via an ex parte contact with commission president Picker's advisor, Nicolas Chaset, but not to other parties." Needless to say, this violates the commission's rules.

Significant portions of Picker's decision were provided to Chaset by a New Jersey-based partner of SDG&E during a March 13 ex parte meeting. This clandestine meeting "trumped the record of the case," and the administrative law judge's recommendation that the Carlsbad plant was not needed, despite the closing of San Onofre and the scheduled closing of the Carlsbad Encina plant in 2018.

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Michael Picker and Michael Peevey
Michael Picker and Michael Peevey

State and federal investigators are looking into whether critical decisions of the California Public Utilities Commission were made in secret by Michael Peevey, retired president of the regulatory body.

Now, a group known as Protect Our Communities is making a persuasive case that the same kind of mischief is going on under Michael Picker, Peevey's successor.

On March 6, an administrative law judge, after exhaustive study, ruled that a gas-fired plant in Carlsbad, desired by San Diego Gas & Electric, is not needed. For environmental reasons, such plants are undesirable. But on April 6, Picker issued an alternative decision that would approve the plant and only modestly reduce the power it would produce.

Yesterday (April 27), Protect Our Communities denounced Picker's proposed alternative decision. The organization detects a whiff of the utilities commission's long-standing malodorous tactics, which observers hoped would blow away with Peevey's departure.

"The likely outcome" of this alternative decision "had been determined before San Diego Gas & Electric's application was filed," says Protect Our Communities. The configuration of the plant suggested by Picker "was communicated via an ex parte contact with commission president Picker's advisor, Nicolas Chaset, but not to other parties." Needless to say, this violates the commission's rules.

Significant portions of Picker's decision were provided to Chaset by a New Jersey-based partner of SDG&E during a March 13 ex parte meeting. This clandestine meeting "trumped the record of the case," and the administrative law judge's recommendation that the Carlsbad plant was not needed, despite the closing of San Onofre and the scheduled closing of the Carlsbad Encina plant in 2018.

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Comments
6

PICKER LAUDS DEAL SCREWING RATEPAYERS; SO DOES WALL STREET. ALSO, IT APPEARS THAT COVERUP IS UNDERWAY. The Wall Street firm of UBS (Union Bank of Switzerland) put out a report dated today (April 29) saying it is not concerned about the controversy over the ex parte meeting in Poland that resulted in a settlement sticking ratepayers with 70 percent of the bill for San Onofre's shutdown costs.

The controversy is "overdone," says UBS, which says that stock of SCE, parent of Southern California Edison, is a buy. UBS notes that "in a more recent (April 1) strongly worded letter to California legislators, Picker unambiguously reaffirmed his support" for the settlement that raped ratepayers.

Picker even says that the settlement fleecing ratepayers "was appropriate under the commission's rules and was in the ratepayers' interests."

Very disturbingly, Picker also addressed the public release of emails in this matter: Picker notes that "there are legal restrictions on the public release of any document provided to the commission by the utilities and that there may be other statutory confidentiality restrictions and privileges that may apply as well." IN SHORT, A PUBLIC AGENCY, THE CPUC, THINKS IT DOES NOT HAVE TO TURN OVER DOCUMENTS TO THOSE PRESSING CIVIL SUITS, AND PERHAPS TO GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATORS AS WELL.

There appears to be a massive, government-led coverup of CPUC/utility coziness. We will have to see. It appears that Picker is a Peevey clone. Best, Don Bauder

April 29, 2015

Mike Murphy: I am afraid you are right. I suspect that the investigators really don't want to tackle this one. Jerry Brown is a close personal friend of Peevey. But there's more. It definitely appears that the corruption of the CPUC goes well down in the ranks, particularly extending to the administrative law judges and mid-level bureaucrats.The entire CPUC should possibly be investigated for its very obvious bias for the utilities and against the ratepayers.

It appears that a lot of CPUC employees have been committing illegalities for a dozen years. Investigators know that shoveling out the muck will be a very difficult job. They don't want to attempt it. Best, Don Bauder

April 29, 2015

(I tried to "thumbs up" this article and the comments, but keep getting thrown back to the sign in page, although I am signed in.

I've had this problem with before, but then it resolved, now it's back.

Odd.)

Back to the article--

Don, when bureaucracies go bad, they really go bad. Picker and Peevey are a couple of revolting suits, but it looks like they are a protected species. Has the CPUC listed them with the California Environmental Protection Agency?

April 29, 2015

eastlaker: Picker and Peevey are revolting. But the ratepayers have to be revolting -- in a different sense of the word -- before reform can get any traction.

Rates of the three major state utilities -- SDG&E, Edison, PG&E -- are among the highest in the nation. Collectively, they may be THE highest. The signs indicate that the CPUC will continue to favor utilities at the expense of ratepayers. This is coming at the same time that water bills will be escalating greatly. Think about it. Best, Don Bauder

April 29, 2015

Someone in the solar industry said that SDG&E has the highest rates--except for Hawaii.

Which makes me think that everyone should go solar as soon as possible.

April 29, 2015

I have the same "thrown back" sign-in problem.

April 29, 2015

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