Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
January 26, 2016 5:09 PM

  • PUC president made secret deal on nuke plant shutdown
  • San Diego attorney hunts for connection to governor
  • Judge’s ruling could force Brown to make disclosures

Jerry Brown distances himself from embarrassing situations in the state government he ostensibly commands, never adopting Harry Truman’s “the buck stops here” attitude.

“I mean, look, s— happens,” Brown infamously said three years ago, while shunning executive accountability for defects in the Bay Bridge reconstruction.

He’s been similarly dismissive – or often, just silent – on other imbroglios, such as the hidden money scandal in the Department of Parks and Recreation or the rampant cheating, drinking on duty and other misconduct at the firefighting academy.

However, a San Francisco judge’s ruling this week may force Brown to reveal whether he played any role in a scandal that erupted in the state Public Utilities Commission over a secret settlement in the multi-billion-dollar closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

It was revealed that PUC President Michael Peevey had secretly met with executives of Southern California Edison, co-owner of the plant, and agreed that $3.3 billion of the $4.7 billion shutdown cost should fall on ratepayers of SoCal Edison and co-owner San Diego Gas and Electric.

Coincidentally – or not – SoCal Edison donated $25 million to a climate change research project at UCLA that was a pet project of Peevey, a former Edison chief executive. Later, Edison was fined by the PUC for taking part in the meeting.

There have since been other embarrassing revelations of private PUC dealings with other utilities, including Pacific Gas and Electric, two former executives of which are Brown’s top two aides.

With the scandal snowballing, Peevey stepped down 15 months ago, saying, “Twelve years is enough.” He had been originally appointed by then-Gov. Gray Davis.

To read expanded column, click here.