San Onofre

The San Onofre nuclear power plant, shown in 2012, will not be restarted, Edison officials say. (Grant Hindsley / Associated Press)

By Marc Lifsher
April 18, 2015

Consumer advocates, outraged by a secret negotiation in Poland over the $5-billion cost of closing the San Onofre nuclear power plant, are asking the California Public Utilities Commission to reconsider a deal that sticks utility customers with the bulk of the bill.

The groups demanded Friday that Southern California Edison Co. return at least $650 million to customers. The financial penalty, they said, should be a punishment for holding backroom talks with former PUC President Michael Peevey during a 2013 energy conference in Warsaw.

Southern California Edison defended the current settlement, calling it “fair and reasonable.” The PUC had no comment.

In separate statements, the Utility Reform Network, known as TURN, and the PUC’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates said they were shocked that Peevey and Edison Vice President Steven Pickett outlined a rough agreement a year before a proposed legal settlement was announced.

“The Warsaw meeting was a flagrant violation of CPUC rules,” said Matt Freedman, a lawyer for San Francisco-based TURN.

Friday’s action came as the San Onofre nuclear plant, shut down in 2013, and majority owner Edison are playing a bigger role in the unfolding scandal at the PUC. Until recently, most attention was directed at ties between Peevey and the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. of San Francisco.

Many details of PG&E’s ties emerged in emails with PUC officials that the company made public in recent months.

Now the PUC wants Southern California Edison to make a similar release of correspondence.

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