By Jeff McDonald
April 29, 2015 – 6:50 p.m.
Southern California Edison responded Wednesday to an order from state utility regulators that the company hand over all of its communications about settling the costs of the premature shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear power plant.
The majority owner of the failed plant provided the California Public Utilities Commission with 34 emails and other documents pertaining to the agreement, which charged ratepayers 70 percent of the $4.7 billion in expenses.
Edison said it went through more than 2 million records and identified fewer than 100 responsive documents. It cited legal privileges in withholding more than 50 other exchanges identified by its lawyers after the commission ordered the release of documents two weeks ago.
Regulators sought the documents as part of their review of possible sanctions against Edison for its two-years-late disclosure of a secret meeting in Warsaw, where one of its executives discussed a framework for settlement with former commission President Michael Peevey.
The Edison response says utility officials did nothing wrong and emphasized that any private discussions with Peevey or other regulators were “one-way” conversations.
“SCE did not negotiate a settlement with President Peevey or any other CPUC decision-maker,” the utility said. The “Warsaw meeting was not a negotiation.”
The utility also provided statements from key executives and a “privilege log,” which listed various records its attorneys said were exempt from release for reasons such as attorney-client confidentiality rules.
Some of the records Edison declined to release include confidential drafts, cost-recovery notes and at least six documents from early April 2013 that contain the word “settlement” in the subject matter listing, according to the log. The Warsaw meeting occurred in March 2013.
Edison also withheld numerous communications between its executives, company attorneys and Peevey, even though including a third party in communications between lawyers and their clients might be expected to render the attorney-client privilege legally moot.
High-profile attorney Mark Fabiani, who has represented the San Diego Chargers in the team’s push for a new publicly funded stadium for more than a decade, also appears in the list of emails and documents withheld by Edison.
Fabiani sent a “proposed action plan” to two top Edison officials on May 28, 2014 — after the proposed San Onofre settlement was released but before it was approved. The document was withheld under the attorney-client privilege and as confidential work product.
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