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Consumer Watchdog Urges CPUC To Reject San Onofre Settlement

San Onofre Nuclear Power Station,  unknown date.

Credit: Southern California Edison

Above: San Onofre Nuclear Power Station, unknown date.

Consumer Watchdog Urges CPUC To Reject San Onofre Settlement

GUEST:

Alison St John, north county reporter, KPBS

Transcript

The consumer group Public Watchdogs is opposing a settlement agreement that charges ratepayers about $2 billion for the shutdown of San Onofre. The nuclear power plant closed in 2013 after faulty, newly-installed steam generators began to leak in 2012.

Charles Langley of Public Watchdogs said the California Public Utilities Commission should not approve the settlement because it allows the utility to unlawfully charge ratepayers for useless equipment.

The $2 billion has already been paid by electricity consumers in their bills.

San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre was the lead attorney on a lawsuit that resulted in the settlement.

RELATED: Two Bills Introduced To Improve Safety, Security At San Onofre Nuclear Plant

When the settlement was reached in January, Aguirre said that he had fought for five years and ultimately decided this was the best deal he could get for consumers.

“Not paying any more money is not the same thing as getting back all the money you paid,” Aguirre said. “There’s no mincing words on that. But we had to make a judgement call.”

Aguirre received $5 million as part of the settlement. Langley said the latest settlement was secretly negotiated behind closed doors — as was the 2014 settlement - “to prevent evidence of potential criminal activity and life-threatening malfeasance from being disclosed openly in public hearings.”

Evidence emerged that the 2014 settlement was based on a secret meeting between CPUC then-President Michael Peevey and Edison executive, Stephen Pickett, who met in a hotel in Warsaw, Poland and noted the details of the deal on the Hotel Bristol stationary.

"The attorneys, in this case, have stabbed the public in the back in exchange for a $5.4 million payday,” Langley said, “and the other participants are also lining up at the trough for easy money at the public's expense."

Other consumer groups, including TURN, UCAN and the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, have signed on to the proposed settlement, saying it is an improvement on the original agreement, which would have charged ratepayers more than $3 billion for the cost of the shutdown.

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