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Wanted: New CPUC president's erased emails

Is Michael Picker as cozy as Peevey was with Edison?

This morning (January 12), Maria Severson of the law firm Aguirre & Severson will call for an immediate forensic investigation of all erased correspondence on the computers of the new California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) president Michael Picker.

On January 4, the Reader had a story about the cozy emails between former CPUC president Michael Peevey and top executives and lobbyists of Southern California Edison. Peevey is a former president of Edison and its parent. The U-T reported on the same cozy emails January 10. In the U-T story, Picker revealed that his emails are erased after 90 days.

The press in Northern California has reported extremely cozy — perhaps illegal — emails from Peevey and other CPUC officials to Pacific Gas & Electric executives. Those emails show that Peevey, commissioner Mike Florio, and other CPUC officials were helping Pacific Gas & Electric get a smaller financial penalty for its liability in the 2010 San Bruno blast that leveled a neighborhood and killed eight people. PG&E fired several executives involved in the email exchange; Peevey recused himself from any San Bruno decision — an empty gesture because he retired from the CPUC only months after the revelation.

Severson will call for an independent investigation of Picker's hard drives, backup systems, and CPUC's internal computers and email servers. Picker was a commissioner on the CPUC for about a year before he was named president.

Mike Aguirre of the Aguirre & Severson firm this morning requested under the California Public Records Act and California State Constitution all CPUC-related emails on Picker's personal email addresses relating to the closure of the San Onofre nuclear plant. This includes all emails to and from the governor's office. The CPUC has come up with a plan forcing ratepayers to pay $3.3 billion toward the closing of San Onofre. However, the problems at San Onofre were clearly caused by management and the cost should be picked up by stockholders, Aguirre and Severson argue.

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This morning (January 12), Maria Severson of the law firm Aguirre & Severson will call for an immediate forensic investigation of all erased correspondence on the computers of the new California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) president Michael Picker.

On January 4, the Reader had a story about the cozy emails between former CPUC president Michael Peevey and top executives and lobbyists of Southern California Edison. Peevey is a former president of Edison and its parent. The U-T reported on the same cozy emails January 10. In the U-T story, Picker revealed that his emails are erased after 90 days.

The press in Northern California has reported extremely cozy — perhaps illegal — emails from Peevey and other CPUC officials to Pacific Gas & Electric executives. Those emails show that Peevey, commissioner Mike Florio, and other CPUC officials were helping Pacific Gas & Electric get a smaller financial penalty for its liability in the 2010 San Bruno blast that leveled a neighborhood and killed eight people. PG&E fired several executives involved in the email exchange; Peevey recused himself from any San Bruno decision — an empty gesture because he retired from the CPUC only months after the revelation.

Severson will call for an independent investigation of Picker's hard drives, backup systems, and CPUC's internal computers and email servers. Picker was a commissioner on the CPUC for about a year before he was named president.

Mike Aguirre of the Aguirre & Severson firm this morning requested under the California Public Records Act and California State Constitution all CPUC-related emails on Picker's personal email addresses relating to the closure of the San Onofre nuclear plant. This includes all emails to and from the governor's office. The CPUC has come up with a plan forcing ratepayers to pay $3.3 billion toward the closing of San Onofre. However, the problems at San Onofre were clearly caused by management and the cost should be picked up by stockholders, Aguirre and Severson argue.

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Comments
23

As I have said many time before, SCE's in-house replacement steam generator project that has so far resulted in a 3+ Billion Dollar ratepayer funded debacle will now also identify the CPUC as a major contributing party, as the law firm Aguirre & Severson continue to press for justice in Federal Court, since the CPUC's attempt at justice resulted in nothing more than a unfair one-sided settlement for the owner/operators of San Onofre that caused the entire debacle in the first place.

While the rest of southern California's media remains mum on this topic, I salute the San Diego Reader for their ongoing coverage of the most important issue facing utility ratepayers, since the cost of Energy both now and in the future affects us all!

NOTE: California already has some of the highest priced energy in the USA, despite having some of, if not the best weather in the USA, and the reason for that is that the CPUC has enabled the BIG Utilities to funnel ever more ratepayer money into their shareholders pockets, thanks to ever more rate increases being approved by the CPUC.

Jan. 12, 2015

CaptD: As my prior posts have revealed, Peevey kept assuring Wall Street that the CPUC permits, effectively, the California publicly-held utilities to have greater profits than utilities in other states. Peevey regularly got and read securities analyst reports provided to him by the utilities; he spoke with visiting analysts; he used his considerable influence with all the commissioners to make sure that these utilities got very generous rate case settlements; he tried to get PG&E a lower settlement over San Bruno by using his influence to get the company weak-kneed administrative law judges; he rewarded intervenors who massaged him with fat intervenor fees and denied such payments to those who fought hard for ratepayers. Peevey's reign is a disgrace. I believe Peevey and perhaps others at the CPUC broke laws. I think a criminal case is in order, but I doubt that it will happen. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 12, 2015

SEVERSON ASKS PICKER TO TAKE A PLEDGE THAT THE COMMISSION WILL ACT ETHICALLY: Today (January 12) Maria Severson called on Mike Picker, the new president of the CPUC, to take a CPUC Ethics Pledge.

She wants the CPUC to pledge that there will be no more secret meetings with utilities and no more gifts from companies with matters before the commission. (Peevey and other commissioners accepted lavish overseas trips, as well as expensive meals and drinks, from the utilities.) She wants the CPUC to swear that it will comply with open meeting laws. She wants the law changed so that matters before the CPUC can be appealed to Superior Court, providing immediate judicial review. She asks that administrative law judges be established as judicial officers, required to obey the Judicial Code of Conduct.

She wants the CPUC to end the revolving door employment practice by which CPUC employees take lucrative jobs with utilities; there should be a two-year ban on "switching sides" from CPUC to utilities or vice versa. The intervenor compensation program should be revised so that zealous representatives of ratepayer rights get awarded their just due.

She wants a code of ethical conduct for ratepayer advocates who receive intervenor compensation. She wants to restore integrity to the Office of Ratepayer Advocates by setting it up as a separate, independent state agency. And she wants settlement reform, requiring open agreements arrived at openly.

Incidentally, Picker keeps changing stories. At first, he told a radio station in Northern California that he wasn't bothered by the controversy swirling around Peevey and others at the commission. Now he is admitting that the CPUC structure is a mess. Also, he told one newspaper that his emails were killed after 90 days, then told another one that those emails could be retrieved through the archives. Picker, who was a public relations man, campaign consultant and lobbyist before he was named to the commission, is getting off to a very bad start. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 12, 2015

The UT Lapdog, er, Watchdog folks are reporting on this fiasco. They're at least a week late with most of the comments, as compared to Don and the Reader. So, we must ask, if it were not for the Reader, would the UT report on these CPUC goings-on at all? It might, because I think there are some good reporters assigned to that function. But there are more sacred cows than anyone can count that get no scrutiny. Most of the scandals that the dogs could expose are off limits to them, or so it would seem. And I'd guess that some of the reports have to go all the way to the top, to Dougie, for approval before they're ever printed. That could explain in part why they are so late to the party with the articles. Well, better late than never, I suppose.

Jan. 12, 2015

Visduh: Yes, the Reader was six days ahead of the U-T, but in this case, I am delighted other media are picking up this story. The Northern California media jumped on the damning emails over the San Bruno explosion. So did the Reader. But the Southern California mainstream media have not jumped on the smelly deal forcing ratepayers to pay for management errors in the San Onofre shutdown. Maybe this will force the public to scream, and possibly force law enforcement to look upon this possibly illegal favoritism. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 12, 2015

So, why is the LA Times silent? Has that paper been bought off by the puppet masters behind the CPUC? Or is it just derelict in its duty, as it has been a number of other times (pardon the pun) recently?

Jan. 12, 2015

The Utilities are using their BIG Money and influence to call in BIG favors in order to help squash this story before it become a firestorm as ever more ratepayers learn that they are now "on the hook" for about $1000 per electric meter account thanks to the CPUC's unfair settlement gift to SCE and SDG&E.

Jan. 13, 2015

CaptD: Yes, the utilities and the CPUC are afraid this will become a national issue. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 13, 2015

CaptD: The utilities are definitely spending a bundle on advertising, and, it certainly appears, using that muscle to influence editorial content. Those who believe there is a "Chinese wall" between advertising and editorial content are deluding themselves. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 13, 2015

Visduh: Yes, the LA Times has not picked up on the CPUC corruption to any significant degree. I don't know why. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 13, 2015

With many billions of dollars at stake, it is just a matter of time before the law firm Aguirre & Severson attracts enough public attention to insure that their appeal of the CPUC's unfair settlement gift to SCE and SDG&E gets its day in Federal Court. There the rule of law not the biased rules of the CPUC, will allow for legal discovery into what really went on during the replacement steam generator project. These documents will then spotlight SCE as being totally responsible for the engineering debacle at San Onofre, which will result in the ratepayers not having to pay many billions of dollars as proposed by the CPUC's unfair settlement gift to SCE and SDG&E.

This case will also implicate not only Governor Brown who has turned a blind eye to the cozy relationship between the CPUC and the Big Utilities they regulate but also all of the CA's elected officials who have not demanded that ratepayers be treated fairly because they seek to continue retain their own cozy relationship with the Big Utilities.

This CPUC investigation will have an enormous impact on not only California politics but also in how the public perceives their Big Utilities in three key aspects Nationally:

  • An expanded a public discussion on California's Energy generation and its distribution will cost all the US Utilities tens of billions of dollars, as other US ratepayers begin to realize they too have been getting ripped off, while their local Utility shareholders earned record profits.

  • The true cost of using nuclear generation will no longer be hidden from the public, as what happened at San Onofre becomes a topic of national interest. Until now, the nuclear industry has worked very hard to hide what goes on at nuclear power plants behind a veil of technology, but once that veil is lifted, ratepayers will learn that nuclear is no longer cost effective in todays marketplace since it enables enormous maintenance costs, radioactive safety risks, decades long decommissioning costs and ever more nuclear waste to be generated along with Utility profits all at ratepayers expense. This increase scrutiny could very well deliver a death blow to the US Nuclear Industry, since other forms of Energy generation have none of the baggage that nuclear generation does.

  • One possible outcome of an expanded CPUC San Onofre investigation in Federal court is that ratepayers may very well demand that any energy they receive fair compensation for any Energy they generate and push into the Grid at the time it is generated, or said another way, the Utility should pay the same amount to all those that generate Energy, instead of paying pennies to homeowners while at the same time selling that Energy to others for much more money, giving the profits to their shareholders.

Jan. 13, 2015

CaptD: Governor Brown's sister is on the board of Sempra. Gov. Brown has to date shown no interest in reforming the CPUC. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 13, 2015

All In The Family, says it all!

Jan. 14, 2015

CaptD: And All in the Family was a comedy. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 15, 2015

Any changes in how Energy is generated and/or marketed in the US will result in major changes to Utilities bottom line nationally and for that reason alone, I believe that the CPUC investigation will be settled “out of court” for many billions of dollars. This will be done in order to protect all US Utilities and especially the Nuclear Industries profits, not to mention just how far and wide the Utilities influence really is.

Jan. 13, 2015

CaptD: Under Peevey, the CPUC was ONLY interested in the top and bottom lines of the utilities. The CPUC's mantra: "Ratepayers be damned." Talk about regulatory capture! This was quintessential regulatory capture. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 13, 2015

THOSE 65,000 EMAILS BETWEEN CPUC AND PG&E WILL BE RELEASED -- ALTHOUGH THEY WILL BE REDACTED. A California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) administrative law judge ruled today (January 13) that 65,000 emails between Pacific Gas & Electric and officials of the CPUC should be released by month-end to the City of San Bruno. Previously-released emails have shown that CPUC officials were working to help PG&E to get a friendly administrative law judge who would lessen the penalties the utility will have to pay for its role in the 2010 San Bruno explosion that leveled a neighborhood and killed eight people.

Those emails show illegal contact, say San Bruno officials. PG&E fired several of its executives involved in the lovey-dovey exchanges, and Michael Peevey, the then-president of CPUC, recused himself from the decision, then resigned at the end of 2014.

However, the 65,000 emails can be redacted, said the administrative law judge, although San Bruno can protest if it believes there has been over-redaction.

Maria Severson of the San Diego law firm of Aguirre & Severson has managed to get some emails showing a similar lovey-dovey relationship between Peevey and officials of Southern California Edison, as a January 4 Reader story revealed. Severson expects to procure more such emails. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 13, 2015

Great news for all those that support a fair settlement of the SCE San Onofre multi-Billion Dollar Debacle.

I predict these emails will be a treasure trove of CPUC "Dirty Laundry" that needs to be hung out in public for all to see!

Jan. 14, 2015

CaptD: Picker has now admitted wrongdoing at the commission, although he soft-pedaled it. Maybe the redactions won't be so severe. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 15, 2015

Seen this story about Michael Picker: http://www.mercurynews.com/News/ci_27328573/Mercury-News-editorial:-Its-a-new-day-at-the-PUC?source=infinite

I posted this comment: I suggest that if Attorney General Kamala Harris really wants to be seen as a credible candidate for CA Senator Boxer's seat then she better stop avoiding the multi-billion dollar San Onofre debacle which now includes the one-sided Pro-Utility settlement by the CPUC and immediately pursue the investigation of Peevey's conduct and, if laws have been violated, to prosecute all those involved. Otherwise she will be seen as just another Politician that is far more interested in her relationship with BIG Utilities than she is with California's voting ratepayers.

With so many billions of dollars at stake, it is just a matter of time before the law firm Aguirre & Severson attracts enough public attention to insure that their appeal of the CPUC's unfair settlement gift to SCE and SDG&E gets its day in Federal Court. There the rule of law not the biased rules of the CPUC, will allow for legal discovery into what really went on during the replacement steam generator project. These documents will then spotlight SCE as being totally responsible for the engineering debacle at San Onofre, which will result in the ratepayers not having to pay many billions of dollars as proposed by the CPUC's unfair settlement gift to SCE and SDG&E.

This case will also implicate not only Governor Brown who has turned a blind eye to the cozy relationship between the CPUC and the Big Utilities they regulate but also all of the CA's elected officials who have not demanded that ratepayers be treated fairly because they seek to continue retain their own cozy relationship with the Big Utilities. How many know, for example that Governor Brown's sister is on the board of Sempra which might very well explain why Gov. Brown has to date shown no interest in reforming the CPUC.

The San Diego Reader has been following this story so you can read much more here: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/...

Jan. 16, 2015

CaptD: A candidate for Boxer's seat might make the CPUC a campaign emphasis. The Feds are looking into CPUC corruption. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 17, 2015

Emails show a trail of money and influence- buying by utilities. Aguirre also asks for text messages in his Public Records Act requests.. Smoking guns are now hidden in text messages. These are public records even though sent or received on private electronic devices if they relate to public business.

Only be standing up to this corruption by throwing light into the dark shadows of the dirty backroom deals is there any hope for ending crony capitalism.

Governor Brown should have asked Peavey to step down before the SONGS settlement was approved. There was no hearing on whether Edison was "prudent" so there was no basis for the amount of the allocation of the economic losses.

I was disappointed in the Intervenors who met ex parte to make a quick settlement with Edison. I made public statements in Costa Mesa to the PUC about the lack of discovery before settlement. The members of the PUC hung their heads in shame, yet they approved the unfair settlement to.cover up the lack of prudence. All of Southern California was endangered, too. Barbara Boxer knew all of this but has lost her Chairmanship of the Resources Committee with the recent surge of the rightwingers.

Aguirre and Severson will get to the bottom of it.

Jan. 17, 2015

Diogenes: I can tell you one thing: Aguirre and Severson INTEND to get to the bottom of it. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 17, 2015

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