Public Watchdogs to intervene in San Onofre Bailout settlement

Public Watchdogs has been granted party status in protest $2.2 Billion  Edison bailout 
March 23, 2018

At 3:11 PM yesterday, Public Watchdogs  received formal notice that its Motion for Party Status in a proposed publicly funded bailout of Southern California Edison before the California Public Utilities Commission  (CPUC) has been approved.

In an unusual decision, CPUC has ruled that Public Watchdogs may intervene in what public advocates have scorned as unlawfully brokered
and publicly funded bailout of Southern California Edison (Edison) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).
At issue is a secretly negotiated back-room deal between Edison, the privately owned law firm of Aguirre & Severson, and the Delaware-based non-profit corporation Citizens Oversight, and other parties. The proposed settlement awards more than $2 billion in ratepayer dollars to  Edison, and more than $5 million in direct payments to Aguirre & Severson for unspecified legal fees.
Publicly Watchdogs has described the unlawful bailout as a “knife in the back” of  ratepayers.   According to Public Watchdogs Executive Director, Charles  Langley, “The attorneys in this  case have stabbed the public in the back in  exchange for a $5.4 million dollar payday.”
CPUC rarely grants late-filed requests for party status, but made an exception in the instant case of Public Watchdogs  because “novel issues are presented by  the 2018 settlement agreement…”
Specifically, the ruling invites Public Watchdogs to explore the legal issues involving a  proposed utility payment of $5,427,000 in unspecified legal fees to the privately operated law firm of Aguirre & Severson, LLP  in exchange for agreeing to a multi-billion dollar bailout of the failed San Onofre Nuclear Generating station at ratepayer expense.
Although the ruling grants “limited status”, it also states that “Nothing in this ruling  prevents Public Watchdogs from submitting public comment regarding this proceeding as to the remaining issues raised in its motion for party status.”
On March 12, 2018, Aguirre & Severson, Citizens Oversight, and other parties teamed up with the attorneys at Edison to stop the motion for party status with a  Joint Response to deny party status. 

Yesterday’s ruling by CPUC defeats the team effort of Southern California Edison, Aguirre & Severson and Citizens Oversight to silence the public’s voice before the Commission.

Public Watchdogs is a California 501(c)3  nonprofit dedicated to public transparency with a public board of directors.
Interested parties are invited to help fund Public Watchdogs’ efforts to expose the unlawful activities of Southern California Edison here.

2 thoughts on “Public Watchdogs to intervene in San Onofre Bailout settlement

  1. Where is the information regarding where and when the public can attend and what’s the process for making comments? Is this just to allow people to “vent” with no meaningful action taken? What is the best the public can hope to attain? Specifically, does it mean the ratepayers get some money back?

    Does SCE have money set aside in a fund, as required by law, to fully fund the decommissioning process in a safe manner? Will money involved in the settlement have any effect on that fund?

    Is the issue only about money, or will it address public concerns about the lack of proper monitoring of stored spent fuel, the substandard equipment, lack of emergency response responsibility, etc.?

    1. Chris, The Public Utilities Commission accepts public comments in writing at http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/general.aspx?id=4524 If you want to file formal comments you must apply for Party Status. Public Watchdogs successfully received party status which was an unusual event given that this litigation has been going on (mostly in secret) for more than 5 years.

      We the ratepayers have paid more than $4 Billion in decommissioning funds over the years, so “yes” the decommissioning is funded.

      Regarding the money issue, despite $4 billion in funds, Edison has been extremely thrifty. We do not believe the fuel is being properly monitored or guarded. You can learn more abou this in our report “Radiological Regulatory Failure” under the resources section of our Web site.

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