In a very brief statement on January 5, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) took administrative law judge Melanie Darling off the ongoing hearings into how the decommissioning of the San Onofre nuclear plant should be handled.
As it stands now, ratepayers, who had nothing to do with the management errors that led to the closing are stuck with more than $3 billion of the cost, and utilities are paying much less.
Throughout the lengthy hearings, Darling would not let San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre make his case that the passing of costs to ratepayers was a result of secret, illegal, unreported meetings between the CPUC commissioners and officials of Southern California Edison. The thesis of Aguirre and his law partner Maria Severson has turned out to be correct, and the attorney general has a criminal investigation well underway.
Unfortunately, Darling will be replaced by administrative law judge Maribeth Bushey. Two years ago, Aguirre and Severson charged that a CPUC commissioner at the last minute changed a key document so that San Diego Gas & Electric could get ratepayers to cover its insurance costs for its role in the 2007 fires. In those hearings, Bushey, like Darling in the San Onofre case, would not let Aguirre make his case. But Aguirre caught the last-minute alteration and stopped the underhanded deal.
The CPUC got its revenge by denying Aguirre and Severson intervenor fees, despite their work and correct interpretation of the CPUC corruption.