Singapore

A man sits by a Water Lily pond at the Marina Bay Sands in which a reflection of the financial skyline of Singapore is seen (AP file/Wong Maye-E, File)

Same nonprofit group funded Poland trip that affected San Onofre deal
By Jeff McDonald
April 6, 2015 – 5:27 p.m.

The group that funded the 2013 trip to Poland where former utilities regulator Michael Peevey sketched out plans to charge customers most of the costs of the failed San Onofre nuclear power plant also paid last week for the chairman of the Assembly utilities committee to travel to Singapore.

Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, who chairs the Assembly Committee on Utilities and Commerce, was among eight lawmakers to attend the study-travel project offered by the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy.

The foundation is supported by companies such as Southern California Edison, majority owner of the shuttered San Onofre plant, and other firms regulated by the Public Utilities Commission.

The commission is the subject of unrelated public-corruption investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the state Attorney General’s Office.

One focus for investigators has been the secret meeting in Warsaw where Peevey and an Edison executive laid out a framework to settle the San Onofre matter, part of a pattern showing commission business done out of public view. Under the eventual deal, ratepayers were assigned $3.3 billion of the $4.7 billion shutdown tab.

As chairman of the Assembly utilities committee, Rendon has oversight of the commission and legislation that affects the companies it regulates.

Rendon spokesman Kevin Liao said the lawmaker was not influenced by the all-expenses-paid trip to Singapore and remains dedicated to reforming the utilities commission.

“Assemblymember Rendon’s commitment to restoring the trust within the PUC speaks for itself,” Liao said. “In just his first three months as Utilities and Commerce chair, Assemblymember Rendon led the committee’s first PUC oversight hearing in four years, introduced two bills requiring greater transparency within the PUC and scrutinized the settlement process that led to the decommissioning of the San Onofre nuclear station.”

The California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that raises money from companies and labor unions with business interests in Sacramento.

The foundation uses the donations to pay for lawmakers to attend conferences and overseas trips with board members and industry leaders.

For the Singapore venture, Rendon was joined by two state senators and five Assembly members, including Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego.

Also traveling to Southeast Asia were executives from Calpine Corp., Comcast, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the State Building & Trades Council and the Independent Energy Producers Association, all of whom are affected by utilities commission decisions.

Peevey, who stepped down as the utilities commission president in December and saw his Los Angeles area home searched by investigators in January, attended the Poland trip sponsored by the nonprofit group.

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