Commission of lies, company of duplicity

Edison's own documents raise questions

The question of "who is telling the truth?" arises from documents Southern California Edison recently released related to the decision to force ratepayers to pay 70 percent of the nearly $5 billion cost of decommissioning the now-shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.

For example, there was a hearing on May 14 of last year — the one in which then-California Public Utilities Commission president Michael Peevey shouted to San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre "I'm not here to answer your goddamn question. Now shut up! Shut up!"

Perhaps a more telling Peevey statement came just before his outburst. Asked whether he had had any talks about the San Onofre settlement with Matt Freedman, lawyer for San Francisco's Utility Reform Network, Peevey said emphatically, "I have never talked with Mr. Freedman on this topic during that whole time at all. Period. Mr. Freedman. That's it. Sorry."

The San Onofre deal had been submitted to the utilities commission on April 3, but it had not yet been approved, and Peevey was still trying to get utilities to donate $25 million to the University of California. On April 10, The Utility Reform Network reported officially that it had had a meeting on April 10 with Peevey, who initiated the meeting. The meeting was attended by Freedman.

At that gathering, the Utility Reform Network reported that Peevey had talked about his now-notorious secret meeting in Warsaw, Poland, the year before, in which Peevey had sketched out a guideline for the deal in which ratepayers would have to bear the burden of San Onofre closing.

So, according to the reform organization's records, Peevey was not telling the truth when he claimed at a public meeting that he had not talked with Freedman about the settlement. Peevey has one alibi: he was not under oath when he made the utterance.

Ron Litzinger

Ron Litzinger

Mike Florio

Mike Florio

However, Ron Litzinger, an Edison top official, was under oath when he testified at that May 10 meeting. Aguirre asked Litzinger, "Was Southern California Edison having ex parte meetings with the commissioners while the secret negotiations were taking place?'

Litzinger said he had not. But Edison documents reveal that on the very morning of the hearing, Litzinger had huddled with Peevey and commissioner Mike Florio. Aguirre considers that this was an ex parte meeting. "A jury should decide" whether Litzinger was telling the truth, says Aguirre.

The San Francisco Chronicle told this weekend how Litzinger revealed in the just-released documents that there had been back-channel meetings between Edison brass, Peevey, and Florio, but they were not reported because the commission had decided that they were one-way meetings at which the commissioners talked and Edison just listened, and therefore they could be kept secret.

For example, in a phone call after one meeting, wrote the newspaper, "Florio told Litzinger not to disclose that the two sides had met, saying he was passing along instructions from Peevey's chief of staff, Litzinger said."

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where are the feds in all this, way past time to strike wile the incriminating info still exists.

While some of this criminality is a federal offense, the CPUC is still a state agency. So, your question would more appropriately be "where is the attorney general in all this?" Oh, but that's Kamala Harris, now candidate for the Senate. Is she going to wade into this mess during a political campaign with the big stakes?

Visduh: Good point. I have addressed that several times, and do so once again in my response here to Murphyjunk. However, I believe the Feds do have a role. Sometimes when a local wealthy, influential crook is permitted to get away with murder because of home town refereeing, the federal law enforcement agencies have to weigh in. I believe that may be happening here. Best, Don Bauder

Murphyjunk: I do not expect much, if anything from the state attorney general's office. Kamala Harris, the AG, is running for the U.S. Senate. She doesn't dare antagonize Jerry Brown, a longtime friend of Peevey.

However, I believe that the federal government is digging into this one. So much evidence is right out on the table. And so much has been written in the press in the Bay Area, San Diego, and Los Angeles that it is difficult to cover this one up. Best, Don Bauder

Don, I hope you are right. If we had to depend on that Sacto "old boy/girl" network to get things right, the state would be in much worse condition than it is now (which is plenty bad.) So, if the FBI gets some evidence and a US Attorney decides to run with it, which city would get the case? I'd suppose that the goings-on centered in Sacto, and that's where it would be adjudicated. But it could be LA or SF I think.

Visduh: Well, the CPUC is based in San Francisco, so the case might be there. I would hope the Feds are looking into both the behavior with the San Bruno explosion (trying to get a softie administrative law judge for PG&E) and the San Onofre matter, which is more egregious. Best, Don Bauder

Don - As we both have said many times before this is a MAJOR embarrassment for just about everyone connected with this multibillion dollar debacle, since it highlights just how corrupt both the generation and the regulation of SoCal's energy really is. If we had a magic wand and could make everyone that is implicated nose grow long, most if not all of our elected Leaders would all look like Pinocchio.

Perhaps someone that is good with photoshop could provide us with some images...

The entire process is rigged as the ongoing investigation into San Onofre clearly illustrates. Also remember that even Governor Browns sister is on the Board of Sempra, so that is yet another "connection" that that needs to be included in what I call) SanOnofreGate

===> #SanOnofreGate. (This new Twitter hashtag will allow you to keep up to date on the ongoing investigation into the multi-billion $ SCE-CPUC ripoff). Just enter the hashtag into the Twitter search box:

Governor Brown's sister was also on the board of Countrywide and quietly left, just before the ball dropped. Some say the delay in investigating Countrywide was to give her a chance to exit....

rmj: Hmmm. You are telling me something I did not know, and I appreciate it. That is worth looking into. Best, Don Bauder

CaptD: Yes, the entire process is rigged. The CPUC must be cleaned out from top to bottom. This includes several administrative law judges who, I suspect, were in on the secret goings-on. Best, Don Bauder

Kathleen Brown is also on the board of the National Park foundation and was on the board of the Children's Hospital Los Angeles, So what's your point??

danfogel: Some think that the fact that Kathleen Brown is on the board of Sempra will be a roadblock in investigations. I don't feel that way. I don't know what is wrong with Kathleen being on the Sempra board.

However, if it turns out that there was criminal activity related to Sempra or SDG&E, and board members including Brown had knowledge of the wrongdoing and did nothing, then the situation could be quite different. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder My comment was directed to captd/founder. He has brought up Kathleen Brown on several occasions and I would like to know what his point is, other that being Jerry Brown's sister, which, despite what some say, is not a crime in and of itself.

danfogel: CaptD knows the utility industry very well. I am sure he doesn't think Kathleen Brown has committed a crime simply by being Jerry Brown's sister. He may know something we don't know. Best, Don Bauder

Do we really have to defend the present Governor's sister who is a daughter of a previous Governor and spouse of a very rich and connected corporate guy? Has she ever resigned from any board to make a principled statement about the ethics of her fellow travelers? Maybe she has. Maybe she hasn't. Couldn't we just say that Kathleen Brown doesn't have to do a thing and would nonetheless be representing -- if not defending -- the status quo, whatever it might be?

monaghan: A post by rmj above tells us that Kathleen was on the board of Countrywide, and quietly left. Some say the investigation was held up until she could slip away. I do not know that this accusation is true.

There was a lot of wrongdoing at Countrywide, and a board member should have known about at least some of it. Due diligence would have told board members something was awry. Again, though, we don't know that the accusation is true. Best, Don Bauder

donbauder, If memory serves me correctly, which it usually does, Katheleen Brown was on the Countrywide board for less than 2 yrs and resigned her position very suddenly in early 2007. I believe that the FBI didn't start investigating Countrywide and Angelo Mozilo until 2008. I can't see them delaying an investigation for at least a year AFTER she left.

danfogel: The housing industry bubble burst, and the housing-related derivatives cratered in 2008, setting off a financial panic. Countrywide was engaging in very dubious lending practices long before the cataclysm. (Countrywide's activities helped cause the cataclysm.)

So I can see someone cocking an eyebrow at her 2007 departure. But it's quite possible the investigations did not start until after Kathleen Brown had left. Best, Don Bauder

Dwbat is your man for photo-shop ops! He has provided us with near-twin bros, civil yachtsman Malin Burnham and iconic green Gumby, as well as an image of Governor Brown in flames with his chum former CPUC chairman Michael Peevey, descending to hell for their collusive misdeeds.

monaghan: One of our other contributors came up with the line, "If it's Brown, flush it down." Dwbat is flushing the governor far, far down. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder That's an old line. Dwbat just applied a different connotation to it.

danfogel: Yes, he capitalized Brown. Very clever, I think. Best, Don Bauder

Poor Malin Burnham. The rest of them all deserve the ridicule.

Wabbitsd: Malin Burnham is not poor, but you are welcome to feel sorry for him. Pray for him, if you like. Best, Don Bauder

"Peevey has one alibi: he was not under oath when he made the utterance."

So maybe he didn't commit perjury but it sounds to me like he was acting in a very unethical manner and was grossly negligent in fulfilling his responsibilities to the public.

ImJustABill: There is plenty of evidence on Peevey, apart from his apparent whopper at the May 14 meeting. Best, Don Bauder

Just you think his story would have been different if he HAD been under oath? I don't believe so.

Wabbitsd: Good point. Best, Don Bauder

SONGS is owned by Edison and SDG&E which are for profit stockholder owned companies and as such should be responsible for the profit and loss. The stockholder and management benefited from the profits and now should suffer from the losses. If they can't afford the cost of closing down SONGS then they should go bankrupt. Sell the company assets to the ratepayers at whatever they can get and let it become a ratepayer owned company.

AlexClarke: The point I have been trying to make for several years now is that the CPUC under Peevey has existed for the benefit of the publicly-traded utilities -- Edison International, Sempra, PG&E. The proof of that is now out in the open.

The San Onofre so-called settlement, which put 70 percent of the shutdown burden on ratepayers, is typical of what the CPUC has been doing since 2002, when Peevey took over. It certainly appears that in massaging the utilities at the expense of ratepayers, some commissioners went over the legality line. Best, Don Bauder

Laurel Kaskurs. Withholding payments is dangerous. The utility can just shut off your service. However, if it were done en masse, by thousands of ratepayers -- and that's possible -- it could be an effective move. This should be done ONLY if law enforcement does nothing, and the CPUC makes no effort to self-cleanse -- and tragically, that is a definite possibility. Best, Don Bauder

Barbara Stevens: Yes, this should be both a book and a television documentary, especially if the coverup appears to work. Best, Don Bauder

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