Monday, June 16, 2014

Fukushima To San Onofre Sunseting On Nuclear Power

Public Meeting on San Onofre -- Public can speak out about PUC Dysfunction and Sky High Power Rates

Hundreds of secret documents in PUC San Onofre files may halt settlement

Opponents "GAGGED" at San Onofre Public Meeting but PUC Allows Hours of Private Meetings With Utilities

The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) announced a public meeting regarding the San Onofre proposed settlement, Monday, June 16, 2014, at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92627, 4pm to 7pm. The public is invited to present their views and ask questions

Opponents to the settlement will also hold a press conference at 3:30pm in the patio of the center just prior to the main event, which is considered the kick off to the "World Cup of Bailouts."

Some members of the public have said the CPUC is a "Kangaroo Court" and there are rumors that wild kangaroos will invade the meeting.

The settlement was negotiated by Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric SDG&E) in secret meetings starting in May 2013, with one outside party, TURN (The Utility Reform Network) and one CPUC internal party, the Office of Ratepayer Advocacy (ORA). The final settlement was first revealed to the public and to other parties on March 27, 2014, with the stipulation that it could not be modified in any way.

It provides that SCE receive $3.3 billion for the crippled San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Proponents have sold this as a $1.4 billion "refund" but in reality, that figure is simply the difference from the original absurd utility request of $4.7 billion and the proposed settlement figure.

Opponents believe ratepayers should receive refund checks of about $250 million.

"The difference in the two sides is stark. The utilities and their followers want ratepayers to provide the net asset value of the base plant PLUS a return of 2.65%, a situation unheard of, even in the distorted world of public utilities," said Ray Lutz, National Coordinator of Citizens Oversight, representing the Coalition to Decommission San Onofre (CDSO) a leading opponent to the bailout settlement. "It is clear that the Commission had this rigged from the beginning, as the meat of the investigation was delayed so long while they fiddled with inconsequential issues."

"The Commission has likely jumped to a conclusion to support the unfair settlement, without allowing the proceedings to complete, and that's why rumors are circulating that wild kangaroos may be invading the meeting," said Charles Langley, a San Diego Gas & Electric ratepayer.

In response to a recent Public Records Request, the CPUC revealed hundreds of secret documents provided to the Commission by technical consultants and never provided to other parties. "It is highly improper to collect all this data and share with the utilities but not with the other parties in the proceeding," said Michael Aguirre, who represents Ruth Henricks, a party in the CPUC San Onofre investigation. "Technical consultants have apparently been working for the Commission and with Commission lawyers for months, generating this treasure trove of secret documents that will likely kill the settlement on the spot. This looks like a way to set up a back-channel with utilities to allow the settlement to be discussed." The consultants were slated to be used for the Phase 3 investigation, which never was started.

The PUC’s pattern of stifling public participation is troubling. Last week a Court issued a decision to stop ratepayers from going to Superior Court to prevent closed door meetings in violation of the Bagley Keene Open Meeting Act.  Ratepayer advocate, Maria Severson, has called on state legislators to draft a bill that ensures the PUC – like every other state agency – has no closed door meetings and complies with the Public Records Act, and if they try to shut the door to the public, the ratepayers can go to Superior Court to stop them.  These “Sunshine” and “Open Meeting” Laws are not being obeyed by the Commission. Last month, PUC President Michael Peevey, a former Southern California  Edison officer, weighed in on the public’s right to participate in PUC proceedings. His position articulated on the attached five-second mp3 recording.

An extremely brief evidentiary hearing was held on May 14, 2014 in CPUC headquarters in San Francisco. At that meeting, SCE President Ron Litzinger admitted to Aguirre's questions that there was nothing in the record that would allow the Commission to evaluate whether the settlement adequately addressed ratepayer's claims.

Now, a public participation meeting is being held to allow the parties to make statements and to allow the public to ask questions. "We had to struggle to get equal time," Lutz said. "But now they are trying to control what we can say as well."

At first, they gave opponents no time at all. Then, proponents 40 minutes and opponents only 20 minutes. When the CDSO said they planned to make a Powerpoint presentation and needed more time, perhaps 30 minutes, the ALJ implemented a 'gag' order, disallowing a powerpoint presentation, and requiring all documents to be pre-approved by the ALJs (Administative Law Judges) before it could be presented.

ALJ Melanie Darling said "No projectors, power points, or other argumentative aids will be permitted inside the meeting." and refused to provide a webcast of the meeting.

In response, the CDSO reasserted their request for 30 minutes during the meeting, with the following email, sent to all parties, bringing up the fact that the proponents of the settlement have already met with the Commission in ex parte meetings, including a personal meeting with Florio, the primary Commissioner of the proceeding, for more than two hours.

Dear ALJ Darling:

On April 14, 2014, Southern California Edison and other proponents (SDG&E, TURN, ORA, FOE) of the proposed settlement met in a number of private ex parte meetings. The notice of these meetings is attached. These parties met for 45 minutes with representatives for Commissioner Peevey, 30 minutes with advisors to Commissioner Picker, 30 minutes with advisors to, and with Commissioner Florio, and 30 minutes with Advisors to Commissioner Peterman. During these meetings, they presented their point of view to Commissioner Florio and advisors of the other Commissioners.

There were also other ex parte meetings with the Commission by the proponents of the settlement.

According to the rules of practice and procedure (8.2 and 8.3), such meetings are allowed in ratemaking proceedings with advisors to Commissioners without prior notice. Prior notice was provided for the meeting with Commissioner Florio. This is a ratemaking proceeding. Also, including in those rules, other parties are allowed to request equal time in similar ex parte meetings.

The CDSO hereby makes such a request. We request that we be allowed time at this public meeting to make our presentation to those commissioners and advisors who are present at the meeting. We will not be constrained in what we choose to present to the commissioners. We plan to bring a power point projector and screen so we may effectively communicate our position, since I'm sure the proponents were not constrained in their private presentations, and we will be distributing any material we see fit during our presentation to the Commissioners.

I hereby reassert our request for 30 minutes during this meeting for the opponents to the settlement to use as they see fit.

--Raymond Lutz 

"We have yet to hear back from ALJ Darling, but we are going to assert our rights to make our case as strongly as we can, even though it's clear that this regulatory agency is fully captured by the utilities," Lutz said. 

CONTACT:  Ray Lutz    619-820-5321  / raylutz at citizensoversight dot org

EVENT 1: Orange County Press Conference
WHERE:   Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92627
WHEN:     (just prior to the public meeting at 4pm)

EVENT 2: CPUC Public Meeting
WHERE:   Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92627
WHEN:     4-7 pm, Monday, June 16, 2014
NOTE:       Rumors are that wild kangaroos will be invading this "kangaroo court"

Fukushima To San Onofre Sunseting On Nuclear Power
Fukushima To San Onofre Sunseting On Nuclear Power

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