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Reopening Of San Onofre Settlement Set For This Week

Photo credit: Associated Press

Surfers walk along a beach nearby the San Onofre nuclear power plant, July 19, 2012.

The California Public Utilities Commission will take another look at the deal in light of revelations about a secret 2013 meeting where a Southern California Edison executive and Michael Peevey, then the head of the CPUC, discussed terms that nearly matched the final settlement.

It’s not known yet whether it will be a do-over.

But the process of reopening the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station settlement that left customers with a $3.3 billion bill starts this week.

Southern California Edison and ratepayers have until Thursday to file arguments with state regulators as they reconsider the settlement.

The California Public Utilities Commission announced in May it was taking another look at the deal in light of revelations about a secret meeting in March 2013. That’s when an Edison executive met privately in Poland with Michael Peevey, then the head of the CPUC, and they wrote terms that nearly matched the final agreement. Edison disclosed the meeting two years later after The San Diego Union-Tribune reported about notes referencing the meeting. The disclosure prompted intense criticism of the state regulator and the San Onofre settlement by lawmakers and ratepayers.

The CPUC fined Edison $17 million last year for eight violations connected to the company's failure to report the Poland meeting. The commission said Edison also breached ethics rules by omitting and misleading state regulators.

Consumer lawyer Mia Severson said the fact that the CPUC’s own person was at that meeting, combined with a slew of emails showing Edison’s deep, private access to the commission, suggests it can’t be fair.

“There is little trust in the commission that it will honestly do the job it had all along, without any efforts to help Edison and just close this up again,” Severson said. “We’re hoping this is not lip service.”

The CPUC is the target of a state criminal investigation into how the San Onofre settlement was reached.

The CPUC and Edison did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

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Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

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