San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
Photo by David Batterson
Energy-industry watchdogs are still wrangling with former San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station operator Southern California Edison over the release of communications both internal and between the utility and its state regulator in the buildup to the plant's demise.
Last month, the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility filed a motion with the California Public Utilities Commission requesting that Edison be ordered to make public any communication regarding the plant since its January 2012 shutdown. The motion came following the belated disclosure of a Warsaw, Poland meeting between executives and former commission president Michael Peevey, which itself was preceded by a police raid on Peevey's home.
The undisclosed communications are important because the topics discussed have included a much-maligned settlement proposal that would place financial responsibility for San Onofre's premature failure on utility ratepayers, rather than on shareholders, of Edison and Sempra Energy, parent company to San Diego Gas & Electric.
Still, Edison officials balked at the request for disclosure, terming the proposal an "extraordinary remedy" for their breach in a February 25 response. The utility insists that, at most, any discovery rights the public might be entitled to should be limited to the already-disclosed Warsaw meeting.
Firing back on March 9, Alliance attorney John Geesman called Edison's response (which delves into procedural minutiae in justifying undisclosed communications) a "belabored explanation" using a "blinkered approach" to interpreting statutes regarding contact between utilities and the state regulator during procedural hearings.
"Any Californian exposed to the news media in the past six months knows that there is something seriously askew with unreported ex parte communications at the [commission]," wrote Geesman.
The commission has yet to rule on whether or not Edison will be asked to release any records for further scrutiny.