PUC Needs A Clean Break With Peevey Era

by The Editorial Board, San Diego Union-Tribune

San Onofre nuclear plant

By Luke Jones from Anchorage / Creative Commons

The revelation of crucial details of the state’s criminal investigation into former California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey should be seen as launching a new phase in the PUC scandal. According to an 18-page sworn affidavit from an investigator for Attorney General Kamala Harris, obtained by the U-T Watchdog team, there is ample evidence that Peevey sought to use his power and influence to force Southern California Edison to pay $25 million to UCLA to set up a greenhouse-gas research program as part of a $4.7 billion PUC settlement divvying up costs of the shutdown of the failed San Onofre nuclear power plant. Edison owns 80 percent of the plant; San Diego Gas & Electric owns 20 percent.

“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 affidavit asserts. “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.”

If the PUC wants to have any credibility with Californians, it is time for its board must make a clean break with the Peevey era. If PUC President Michael Picker wants to save his agency from a further erosion of its tattered reputation — and prevent a further demolition of his own reputation — that is what he must do.

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