More Emails Surface On Secret Meetings Over San Onofre Settlement

Friday, June 26, 2015
By Amita Sharma

New questions are being raised about how a $4.7 billion settlement that allotted most of the shutdown costs for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station to customers was devised.

As regulators, the California Public Utilities Commission is required to do its business in public.

But in March 2013, then-PUC President Michael Peevey met secretly with Southern California Edison executive Stephen Pickett in Poland where they discussed a framework for the San Onofre settlement.

Newly released emails obtained by KPBS show that upon his return from Poland, Peevey directed a staffer to schedule a meeting with fellow Commissioner Mike Florio.

“For now Commissioner Peevey would like to keep this meeting to just the three of us,” wrote PUC Energy Division Director Edward Randolph. “I am happy to come by and explain the topic in person (or on the phone).”

PUC spokeswoman Terrie Prosper did not answer questions Friday about the topic of the meeting.

“Commissioners and staff are allowed to have lunch together,” wrote Prosper in a written response to questions. “According to Commissioner Florio, the specifics of whatever may have been discussed in Poland were not shared with him at this lunch or at any other time.”

She added that state rules allowed them to discuss the San Onofre case freely.

San Diego lawyer Maria Severson believes the men discussed the Poland meeting. She and her law partner, former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre, have sued the PUC to have the settlement overturned. The emails about the lunch between Peevey and Florio were contained in a batch of correspondence released to the lawyers by the PUC.

“Peevey wants to get Florio to a meeting because he wants to get Florio on board with the Edison-Peevey settlement,” Severson said.

This week, a consumer group involved in the negotiations of the settlement withdrew its support for the agreement.

The PUC is at the center of federal and state criminal investigations for alleged improper dealings with the utilities it oversees.

An outside review of the PUC released this month concluded the agency makes billion-dollar decisions through secret meetings and succumbing to utility influence.

Florio was taken off the San Onofre case earlier this year without explanation. His removal followed revelations that he had regular private conversations with Edison officials.