CPUC ousts administrative law judge

Darling would not let attorney Mike Aguirre make his case

Melanie Darling
  • Melanie Darling

In a very brief statement on January 5, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) took administrative law judge Melanie Darling off the ongoing hearings into how the decommissioning of the San Onofre nuclear plant should be handled.

As it stands now, ratepayers, who had nothing to do with the management errors that led to the closing are stuck with more than $3 billion of the cost, and utilities are paying much less.

Mike Aguirre

Mike Aguirre

Throughout the lengthy hearings, Darling would not let San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre make his case that the passing of costs to ratepayers was a result of secret, illegal, unreported meetings between the CPUC commissioners and officials of Southern California Edison. The thesis of Aguirre and his law partner Maria Severson has turned out to be correct, and the attorney general has a criminal investigation well underway.

Unfortunately, Darling will be replaced by administrative law judge Maribeth Bushey. Two years ago, Aguirre and Severson charged that a CPUC commissioner at the last minute changed a key document so that San Diego Gas & Electric could get ratepayers to cover its insurance costs for its role in the 2007 fires. In those hearings, Bushey, like Darling in the San Onofre case, would not let Aguirre make his case. But Aguirre caught the last-minute alteration and stopped the underhanded deal.

The CPUC got its revenge by denying Aguirre and Severson intervenor fees, despite their work and correct interpretation of the CPUC corruption.

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The CPUC and their minions including ALJ"s are all corrupt.

AlexClarke: Exactly. If San Onofre and San Bruno don't show the public the CPUC is corrupt to the core, what will? Best, Don Bauder

she may catch cold outside the power companies pockets

Murphyjunk: Great line. She was in the Peevey pocket and the utilities' pockets. Wait and see. The CPUC will just move her to another job inside the CPUC. Best, Don Bauder

The CPUC is a joke. They all need to be replaced ASAP because they are not doing a good job. How do we get rid of these clowns?

boemac: The governor has to get rid of them, but the governor is in bed with them. The legislature passed some fairly positive legislation, but Brown vetoed it. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder, The governor, this one or any other, can't get rid of the commission members. It's a constitutional thing. They are appointed by the governor and approved by the state senate with a majority concurrence. The legislature may remove a member for incompetence, neglect of duty, or corruption, but only with two thirds of each house concurring.

danfogel: We have been through this before. The current governor is a Democrat and the legislature is overwhelmingly Democratic. Brown can arrange -- almost unilaterally -- for a CPUC commissioner's removal. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder You are correct, we have been thru this before. And each time I have said basically the same thing. Brown doesn't have a 2/3 majority in either house. He needs a couple of repubs to help him out. And at this point in time, I would dare say that there are some members of his own party not too happy with him. Just this week alone, he has p!ssed off a contingent of them by coming out against the proposed minimum wage increase and a whole slew of them are not happy with his proposed budget. You and I have differing opinions. I don't think he could even get all of the dems on his side let alone bring over a few of the opposition. I believe we do agree on one thing though, that it doesn't matter because he's not even going to try.

danfogel: Yes, we agree that Brown is not going to try. He put his dear friend (Peevey) in the post, and then put another friend, Picker, in the post when Peevey "retired." Best, Don Bauder

and replaced with persons with no connections to the good o'l boy system

Murphyjunk: The CPUC had a head who was not connected to the old boy network. Her name is Loretta Lynch (not the one who is AG in Washington D.C.) She was an excellent chief executive of the CPUC. Utilities complained. Gray Davis replaced her with Peevey, an ex-president of Southern California Edison, now under criminal investigation. Best, Don Bauder

SDObserver: Notice that in U-T CPUC stories (which are excellent, by the way), Aguirre, the major source of the stories, gets short shrift. That's because the U-T smeared him when he was city attorney and hasn't forgotten that, even under different management. Best, Don Bauder

The irony of San Diegans being saved from the CPUC and the utilities by the man that was run out of the office of City Attorney is remarkable.

Dennis: Indeed. He had excellent ideas as city attorney but the U-T smeared him unmercifully and inaccurately. Best, Don Bauder

Joe Holtzman: Agreed. Best, Don Bauder

Bob Seegmiller. Disagree. The plant was shut down because Edison, the cause of the problems, was covering its backside -- and trying to pass the costs to ratepayers. When management screws up, as it did in this case, the costs should be carried by shareholders. Best, Don Bauder

Don — You are correct, plus left unsaid is that SCE ran Unit 3 over its NRC approved "redline" limitations (to generate more steam/profits) because they thought it was built better, which is what caused the leak that ultimately brought down both Unit 2 and Unit 3. Upon inspection after the leak occurred, both were found to have had more tube damage than the rest of the entire US Nuclear Reactor "Fleet" combined*, yet SCE did not even have a clue that anything was amiss in either Unit 3 or Unit 2, until the leak occurred..

This makes what happened very SCARY, if you know anything about Nuclear Reactors and their Steam Generators.

In non-engineering speak, San Onofre could have had a double meltdown (like Fukushima's triple meltdown) if a major earthquake had occurred while Unit 2 and Unit 3 were operating at full power, if more than a few of the tubes failed that were in the four steam generators (which each had 9,727 tubes inside them). Multiple tube failures could have easily resulted in uncovering the reactor core of Unit 2 and/or Unit 3 in a matter of minutes, no matter what those in the control room tried to do to prevent it, especially since the two reactors are so close together physically!

CaptD: I trust your analysis. You have proved you know the science of nuclear plants and the corruption of the CPUC. Best, Don Bauder

Cap'n D's stuff should be FRONT PAGE NEWS!

Flapper: It may well be. Best, Don Bauder

Rich Fragosa: Those bills he vetoed, had they passed, would have given the public somewhat of an ability to begin the reform process at the CPUC and in the courts. They wouldn't have been enough to hurt Brown. Remember: he has the legislature protecting him. Best, Don Bauder

Charles Langley: I am afraid you are right. Bushey has proved she is hostile to Aguirre. She is probably more so now, because he and his law partner have exposed the CPUC as a thoroughly corrupt enterprise. If there is any justice in this world, layers of management at the CPUC will have to be fired, and some may go on trial. That goes for administrative law judges. The CPUC is desperate to stop a housecleaning. These people have cushy jobs and perks that go with cozying up to utilities. Best, Don Bauder

I remember bumper stickers way back in the '80s that read "Welcome To San Diego, owned and operated by SDG&E" not much has changed.

Maris Brancheau: San Onofre was not just a debacle. The series of unreported, secret, illegal meetings between Edison and CPUC officials, meant to pass the costs to ratepayers, was criminality in spades. Edison should be forced to dump every executive involved. The CPUC should be cleaned out. Some who were at the CPUC and Edison during this thievery should be incarcerated. Best, Don Bauder

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