Kamala Harris

Her office’s criminal investigation of the nuclear plant’s closure has drawn scrutiny as she runs for U.S. Senate.

By Amita Sharma
Evening Edition
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

When criminal investigators with the California Attorney General’s Office searched the home of a former top utility regulator early last year, they uncovered evidence that upended a story state officials and a major electric utility had been telling consumers about the deal to pay for the shutdown of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

This was big. And Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a candidate for U.S. Senate, was hailed by consumer activists for her aggressive investigation.

The California Public Utilities Commission and Southern California Edison had claimed a settlement that left ratepayers with the $3.3 billion bill for the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s closure was the product of hard-fought negotiations between ratepayer advocates and the power company.

But when Harris’ investigators went through the La Cañada Flintridge home of former CPUC President Michael Peevey after obtaining a search warrant, a different story emerged.

Investigators found handwritten notes that showed Peevey had met secretly with an Edison executive in Poland after the nuclear power plant sprang a radioactive leak and had to be closed. There, they came up with a framework for a San Onofre settlement that closely resembled the final public deal.

“That was the most remarkable piece of investigative work that I’ve ever seen in the last 40 years,” said San Diego consumer attorney Mike Aguirre.
A view of the domes at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station north of Oceanside, Oct. 8, 2015.

It was the kind of work, Aguirre said, that makes people fall in love with their leaders. But now he contends Harris is jilting her constituents.

“There was no follow up,” he said.

Aguirre and other consumer activists contend Harris is failing to police state regulators and Edison. While her office’s criminal probe launched with a punch when Peevey’s home was searched, the investigation is now dragging on without result, they said.

Harris declined to be interviewed for this story. Her office also declined to answer any questions about the inquiry into the San Onofre settlement. A statement released by her spokesman said, “Criminal investigations are very serious. To protect the integrity of our investigations, we can’t comment on potential ongoing investigations.”

More search warrants issued

Six months after Harris’ investigators searched Peevey’s house, the attorney general obtained more search warrants. This time they were for the centers of power in the San Onofre case — Edison and the offices of state regulators.

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