Criminal Probe Focuses On San Onofre Response
by Jeff McDonald and Ricky Young, San Diego Union-Tribune
A state criminal investigation into the California Public Utilities Commission centers around former President Michael Peevey’s persistent intervention into the process to assign costs for the failure of the San Onofre nuclear plant, newly released court documents show.
Specifically, Peevey pushed the idea of plant owner Southern California Edison funding $25 million of greenhouse gas research at the University of California Los Angeles as part of the $4.7 billion settlement deal.
The power plant on San Diego County’s north coast closed» amid a radiation leak in January 2012. A deal assigning 70 percent of premature closure costs to utility customers has since been repudiated by two of the consumer groups that negotiated it, amid revelations about undisclosed meetings between regulators and utility executives.
A sworn affidavit by an investigator for Attorney General Kamala Harris, unsealed last month, lays out the developing criminal case in detail for the first time.
The 18-page document says improper meetings were held, which might bring misdemeanor charges, but that a conspiracy to commit those misdemeanors could be considered a felony.
“The facts indicate that Peevey conspired to obstruct justice by illegally engaging in ex parte communications, concealed ex parte communications, and inappropriately interfered with the settlement process on behalf of California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA,” the document alleges. “Peevey executed this plan through back channel communications and exertion of pressure, in violation of CPUC ex parte rules, and in obstruction of the due administration of laws.”
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