Melanie Darling
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Southern California Edison today (October 20) filed a document with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) revealing close communications between an Edison executive and the administrative law judge, Melanie Darling, who is overseeing the process by which Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, major owners of the now-shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant, intend to pass most of the decommissioning costs to ratepayers instead of to shareholders.

Darling had earlier asked Edison to to provide additional information on the company's late filings of ex parte meetings between itself and CPUC officials — particularly the secret meeting in Poland at which former CPUC president Michael Peevey sketched out a strategy to pass the costs to ratepayers, and Edison did not file its records of that meeting.

Edison insisted that today's filing is a "recent discovery of a limited number of additional documents" that were "neither inappropriate nor reportable ex parte communications." The newly discovered documents were "procedural," insisted Edison, and therefore did not have to be reported. The filing contained a number of redactions.

Mike Aguirre

Mike Aguirre

However, those documents appear to be incriminating. Edison executive Russell Worden had written in his notes that Judge Darling was "pretty shocked by [San Diego attorney] Mike Aguirre," who throughout the process stated that the CPUC decision-makers and Edison had secretly sketched out a plan for shifting the costs to ratepayers.

Judge Darling tried to silence Aguirre, as did Peevey, but it is now clear that the scenario Aguirre revealed was what happened. In any case, an impartial judge would not express his or her opinion of one of the parties of a pending case to the other side.

Also, other documents Edison revealed today show that Darling was counseling Edison about an upcoming meeting, and congratulating it for handling its job well — again, a step an impartial judge would not take.

Says Aguirre, "The CPUC should be removed from making any decision about the [San Onofre plant] settlement. This judge should disqualify herself; she should leave the CPUC after thoroughly disgracing herself and other administrative law judges."

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Comments

AlexClarke Oct. 21, 2015 @ 6:02 a.m.

Gee who knew? Corrupt political appointees, corporate weenies and an "in the bag" judge would be involved in protecting the public.

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Don Bauder Oct. 21, 2015 @ 9:08 a.m.

AlexClarke: Yes, regulatory/utility corruption is nothing new. But this San Onofre case, the "rape of the ratepayer," is an egregious case. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 21, 2015 @ 9:15 a.m.

Bonnie Russell: Agreed. But there is a problem nailing the CPUC and the utilities. You can't take the CPUC to court. You have to go straight to the appellate court, which can refuse to hear the case. Legislation could change this, but Gov. Jerry Brown -- who is complicit in the CPUC's corruption -- vetoed the regulatory reform bills.

So now Edison, Peevey, executives of Edison, SDG&E, and PG&E, and most importantly the CPUC and its commissioners and administrative law judges, have a clear path to escape. They are just stalling until the public forgets about the wide-open thievery. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Oct. 21, 2015 @ 1:08 p.m.

Don — "So now Edison, Peevey, executives of Edison, SDG&E, and PG&E, and most importantly the CPUC and its commissioners and administrative law judges, have a clear path to escape"

Don't be so sure, since #SanOnofreGate * is not able to contain all the additional leaks that are occurring!

From comments 8-11 of 21 posted on 10/10/15 here: http://m.sandiegoreader.com/news/2015/oct/09/ticker-gov-brown-vetoes-bills-utilities-commission/#c193174

8) The CA Attorney General's Office is now "investigating" the CPUC and it's handling of the SCE CA State mandated ratepayer "settlement" but at what speed?

9) The CPUC Appointed Legal Judge (ALJ) Darling responded to SCE's emails to her (which to some might be considered "entrapment") by citing SCE Executives for not disclosing their "behind closed doors" meetings (in Austria) between SCE and the then current CPUC Chairman Peevey. This occurred long before the CPUC held public meetings to determine a CPUC-SCE settlement, which mirrored Peevey's Austria meeting notes so closely, that many consider them "Deal Points" not meeting notes. They even included the exact amount of the large donations to be paid to UC Berkeley by both SCE and SDG&E (who is a 20% owner of San Onofre) to fund "climate research studies" over the next 5 years.

10) The CPUC Appointed Legal Judge (ALJ) Darling has been called out herself as having ex parte communications with SCE.

11) This revelation means that all the public CPUC settlement hearings were no more than a "staged dog and pony show" because the CPUC-SCE settlement deal was already finalized and it was completely in SCE's favor, because it made ratepayers responsible for all the costs associated with SCE's multi-billion dollar mismanagement of the San Onofre replacement steam generator project (RSGP). Perhaps this is why when SD Attorney Michael Aguirre testified before the CPUC at a public meeting that they were making a big mistake, Peevey cussed him out and told him to “Now shut up — shut up!". http://www.copswiki.org/Common/M1448

  • 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 Oct. 21, 2015 @ 4:17 p.m.

CaptD: I agree that the CPUC settlement hearings were no more than a staged dog and pony show. The decision had already been made. Those meetings were a charade.

But will state AG and federal investigators follow through and do something? That is the question. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Oct. 21, 2015 @ 4:28 p.m.

Don — Now the heat will be turned up at the CA AG Office, since they are investigating the CPUC and its handling of #SanOnofreGate. Since CA Attorney General Office K. Harris is running for Senator Boxers seat, it will be very interesting to see if any headway is made into the SanO investigation before the elections. Once elected, K. Harris will put SanO behind her, leaving the investigation to be completed by her successor. Also to get elected, K. Harris wants to remain on great terms with Gov. Brown (who is a personal friend of Peevey and also a key player in what occurred at SanO). Speaking of Barbra Boxer, it is important to remember that she received certified documents about what was happening at SanO and did not disclose them for many months, so you can be sure that any investigation will be asking her why she did not disclose them sooner.

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Don Bauder Oct. 21, 2015 @ 8:03 p.m.

CaptD: This is what we have feared all along. Harris wants to be elected senator. She won't cross Gov. Brown. So she will stall. I hope I am wrong. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Oct. 21, 2015 @ 1:10 p.m.

I posted this on 08/08/15:

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 Oct. 21, 2015 @ 4:23 p.m.

CaptD: If SDG&E also held unreported ex parte meetings, it should get smacked along with Edison. I have thought for some time that Edison must have kept co-owners abreast of what was going on. SDG&E is the major co-owner. Did Edison tell the San Diego utility what was going on? If it did, why didn't SDG&E speak up, knowing that what was happening was blatantly illegal? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 21, 2015 @ 4:26 p.m.

Mike Murphy: The long-concealed communications between the Edison executive and the administrative law judge constitutes evidence, in my mind. Best, Don Bauder

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MURPHYJUNK Oct. 22, 2015 @ 8:07 a.m.

the way things have been shown to work at edison, its hard to take any of it with any degree of credibility

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Don Bauder Oct. 22, 2015 @ 9:06 a.m.

Murphyjunk: Yes, Edison has a long record of corporate dishonesty. It worked with its former president, Mike Peevey, then head of the CPUC, for an illegal way to shift three-fourths of the San Onofre decommissioning costs to ratepayers. This was all accomplished through secret, illicit meetings. Now Edison is trying desperately to cover the whole thing up, as is CPUC. It appears that moves by Gov. Jerry Brown may permit them to escape.

I was one of the ones fighting Edison in the late 1980s and early 1990s when it was trying to take over SDG&E. At the time, I believed that Edison was one of the most dishonest corporations I had ever dealt with, and I have dealt with some really scummy ones. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Oct. 21, 2015 @ 4:31 p.m.

Don — One new point is that Riverside County is a minor owner of SanO and as such should the "settlement" be overturned, they would not have billions of dollars to pay for their share of the San Onofre debacle like SCE and SDG&E. I would imagine that if the settlement is overturned we will see Riverside County and/or SDG&E sue SCE because it was SCE's design team and their operation of SanO that caused their replacement steam generators to fail.

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danfogel Oct. 21, 2015 @ 5:51 p.m.

Riverside County is NOT involved with SONGS. It's the City of Riverside. Riverside Public Utilities has a 1.79 percent, non-operating co-ownership of SONGS. Riverside’s utility has already put money in a trust fund, $79 million based on what I have read,for expenses and costs related to the plant’s closing.

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Don Bauder Oct. 22, 2015 @ 9:08 a.m.

danfogel: Yes, it is the city, and it owns a small fraction, as you note. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Oct. 21, 2015 @ 8:07 p.m.

CaptD: Riverside owns a very small part of San Onofre. At this juncture, I can't see either Riverside or SDG&E suing Edison. One can hope, though. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Oct. 21, 2015 @ 4:41 p.m.

Where are the all the Government Checks and Balances we are always hearing about?

The California Regulator charged with overseeing the CPUC (Rendon) is still playing softball with the CPUC and has not even demanded the release of all the Emails from SDG&E to better understand their part in what I call #SanOnofreGate*. This is nothing less than providing "damage control" for the very Utilities that the CPUC is supposed to be regulating, by the regulator of the CPUC!

A key issue is why has Melanie Darling's boss Karen Clopton, Chief ALJ of the CPUC (https://shar.es/1qQoHH) has not started her own internal investigation into all the mistakes that were made in the State mandated investigation into the "reasonableness" of the San Onofre Replacement Steam Generator Project, in which Melanie Darling refused to allow "discovery" thereby halting the entire investigation! Now word has it that Karen Clopton is "cooperating" with the investigation of the ALJ's roll in #SanOnofreGate and has already retained her own attorney!

The CPUC ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) Darling (who was chosen by Peevey to hear the San Onofre case) simply choose not to allow ANY "discovery" into the reasonableness of how SCE handled the Replacement Steam Generator Project, an investigation that was required by State law since San Onofre Unit 2 and Unit 3 were each off-line for more than 9 months, which is the time specified in the CPUC code that an investigation must be initiated. Her "opinion" kept Aguirre and Severson from asking SCE employees for data and testimony "on the record". She singlehandedly derailed the entire "investigation" and I predict that time will show that she played a pivotal role in the inner group that worked behind the scenes and off the record, to limit the scope of the investigation and/or promote the one sided Pro-Utility settlement. Much has been written about her "conversations" with SCE officials, I believe that is just the tip of the iceberg, and now all of her emails (internal and to the Utilities) should be also be released and analyzed.

Part of the above has been posted at: http://m.sandiegoreader.com/news/2015/jul/20/ticker-voice-reason-union-tribune-san-onofre/#c189165

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Don Bauder Oct. 21, 2015 @ 8:16 p.m.

CaptD: Yes, those conversations may well be the tip of the iceberg. All her emails should be released. Remember, though, that judges, although they may be completely biased and/or complicit in the fraudulent activity, know how to be very careful in wording their emails and other communications. Judges know how to communicate with winks and nods. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Oct. 22, 2015 @ 8:27 a.m.

Don — I saw a woman wearing a sweatshirt in Costco that said on the front, "A good Lawyer knows the Law" and on the back said, "A Great Lawyer knows the Judge".

If all the ratepayers in SoCal, that are now on the "hook" for over $1,600 for each of their accounts got vocal, this "debacle" would be shifted to the "Real" Courts outside of the CPUC and then we would see some real "discovery" by Aguirre & Severson that would make #SanOnofreGate * a national news story.

    • 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 Oct. 22, 2015 @ 9:14 a.m.

CaptD: That is a great aphorism that has been quoted a couple of times on this blog. It was an excellent idea of somebody to put it on a sweatshirt.

I sure hope you are right that the ratepayers getting raped will get justice if they get vocal. In such a case, honesty would triumph over thievery. Pardon my cynicism, but that doesn't happen often.

Remember: you can't take the CPUC to superior court. Your case has to go directly to the appellate court, which can refuse to hear it. By vetoing the utility reform bills, Gov. Brown kept this escape hatch open for both the CPUC and Edison. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Oct. 22, 2015 @ 9:07 p.m.

Don — Agreed, plus the Governor can always grant a pardon for everybody "connected" (to himself), if it ever gets close to "jail time" for any of those that helped SCE rape the public, "to keep the lights on in CA [plus keep the profits flowing to shareholders].

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Don Bauder Oct. 23, 2015 @ 10:25 a.m.

CaptD: This is a case of governments and corporations working together in a massive coverup. That is one reason I believe it should be national news. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh Oct. 22, 2015 @ 9:12 p.m.

If just a small part of these revelations turns out to be true, federal laws were violated. We've seen, over the years, that the feds can be real meatgrinders when they decide to go after crooked politicians at any level of government. So, is the FBI seriously investigating this mess? And if it is not, why would that be? I'm doubtful that an Obama DOJ is going to derail the Dem dominated government in CA. So, if neither the attorney general nor the FBI will pursue this, where do the ratepayers look for relief?

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Don Bauder Oct. 23, 2015 @ 10:27 a.m.

Visduh: I share your skepticism. Would a Democrat-dominated DOJ go after a Democratic governor of a Democratic state? We hope it will happen. But this whole thing smells to high heaven. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Oct. 22, 2015 @ 9:12 p.m.

Don — Michael Aguirre should now file to get intervenor fees, since the CPUC wrongly denied them to him, since time has proved him to be correct in all his accusations. If Judge Darling had listen to him instead of to SCE and Michael Peevey, we would gotten some discovery and have never have gotten into #SanOnofreGate *.

  • The new hashtag that will allow you to keep up to date on the ongoing investigation into the multi-billion $ SCE-CPUC ripoff.
1

Don Bauder Oct. 23, 2015 @ 10:35 a.m.

CaptD: I don't think this is the time for Aguirre to re-file for intervenor fees. Edison, despite the massive evidence to the contrary, still insists it followed the law. Ditto the CPUC.

When Aguirre declared that the CPUC and Edison were conspiring together secretly to shift the decommissioning costs to ratepayers, Aguirre was absolutely right. No wonder Peevey blew up. Aguirre has never told me how he learned of the conspiracy, but I think I know who fed him the information. It was probably corroborated by CPUC insiders. There are people within the CPUC who are humiliated by this orgy of dishonesty at the top of their organization. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Oct. 23, 2015 @ 11:10 a.m.

Don — Judge Darling refused to allow any "discovery" during the investigation of SanO. That is when I knew the "fix" was in. I know there are may documents that prove that SCE was in charge of the entire design process, not MHI. This shifts the responsibility for the replacement steam generator project failure to SCE. Since SCE, was getting paid BIG BUCKS to do the Replacement Project by ratepayers. SCE's promises of billions in savings and a RSG life span of 40-60 years sounded great then. Now we all realize it was just a SCE sales pitch since the RSGs failed almost as soon as they were installed.

Now SCE, SDG&E, the CPUC, the CA AG and the NRC are all trying to delay any discovery until after the election. They think, the longer they can delay the better chance they have of deceiving the public.

What they are not counting on is all the new information that is coming out, that will document that SCE was at fault.

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Don Bauder Oct. 24, 2015 @ 8:55 a.m.

CaptD: I agree that all the documents coming out show conclusively that Edison and CPUC officials colluded in the scam and in the attempted coverup.

I still wonder if ratepayers should subtract from their bills that percentage of Edison expenditures that goes to lobbying and buying off politicians and so-called regulators. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD Oct. 25, 2015 @ 10:27 a.m.

Don — If ratepayers could deduct Utility expenditures that are being used to benefit shareholders instead of ratepayers, SoCal would no longer have the most expensive electricity in the continental USA. As it is now, Utilities distribute a tiny percentage of the money they collect from ratepayers to a wide variety of groups and Org.'s so that whenever the Utility needs a rate increase they get all these groups have been receiving money to appear at the CPUC dog and pony shows to show their support. I'm sure they consider this "doing Business" and who would disagree if every dollar they donated generates many times that in additional returns for their shareholders, all at the ratepayers expense.

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Don Bauder Oct. 26, 2015 @ 1:38 p.m.

CaptD: Oh yes, the scam you describe has been going on for years. SDG&E donates to local nonprofit groups. Then when there is a hearing on a critical issue, representatives of the nonprofit groups pack the audience, and stand up and laud SDG&E. Those with serious issues often don't have a chance to get their point across. Best, Don Bauder

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