Edison Fined $16.7 Million For ‘Secret’ San Onofre Chats

by Teri Sforza, Orange County Register

PG&E's San Onofre nuclear plant

WPPilot / Wikimedia

Southern California Edison was slapped with a $16.7 million fine Thursday by the California Public Utilities Commission for failing to disclose “secret” chats between an Edison executive and CPUC official – about half as much as a judge had originally threatened.

While Edison was disappointed with the fine, critics blasted it as a walk in the park.

“This is a big win for Edison, which did not contest the penalty amount,” said John Geesman, attorney for the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility. “You pay a token fine, you get your wrist slapped, you pocket a couple billion dollars. That’s a phenomenal return on investment.”

The chats centered on how to handle San Onofre’s shutdown. Of particular interest was a tête-à-tête at the luxury Hotel Bristol Warsaw in Poland during a conference in 2013, between then-CPUC President Michael Peevey and Edison’s then-Executive Vice President Stephen Pickett. There, on hotel stationery, Pickett scribbled the framework of “a possible resolution” to the San Onofre debacle that’s stunningly similar to the one ultimately adopted.

That agreement saddles consumers with the bulk of the costs of the nuclear power plant’s premature shutdown – $3.3 billion – while Edison’s shareholders shoulder just $1.4 billion.

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