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.
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."