SAN CLEMENTE (CBSLA.com) — The anger of some Southern California Edison ratepayers about a deal that led to them being stuck with a $3.3 billion bill, 70 percent of what it will cost to shut down the defunct San Onofre nuclear power plant in San Clemente, may have sparked an investigation that now appears to be heating up.
“Edison knew that they were going to make more money decommissioning than they were to keep making electricity so they tried to get the public to pay for the steam generator debacle, which they messed up,” Gene Stone, a San Onofre activist, told KCAL9 Political Reporter Dave Bryan.
Stone is with the group Residents Organized for a Safe Environment and says the deal approved by the California Public Utilities Commission had a bad odor about it from the start.
State agents have now executed search warrants at the San Francisco headquarters of the Public Utilities Commission, as well as at the Rosemead headquarters of Southern California Edison as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The state Attorney General’s Office reportedly was looking for details in the settlement agreement that stuck ratepayers with paying billions of dollars for the closure of the plant after a radiation leak, which was caused by defective steam generators installed at the plant, and run by Southern California Edison.
Critics charge the groundwork for the deal was struck at a closed-door meeting in Poland two years ago. The meeting involved Michael Peevey, who was the president of the PUC at the time, and a top executive of Southern California Edison.
“They wanted to get paid … the public to pay for the steam generators and the decommissioning so they thought they had made this private deal. It looked like they were thinking they could make money both ways,” Stone said.
In a statement released by Southern California Edison to the Union-Tribune, the company denied breaking the law and pledged full cooperation:
“SCE has been cooperating fully with the Attorney General’s office to provide the documents requested, and the Attorney General’s office has allowed SCE the time necessary to search for and produce responsive documents.”
Peevey, who left the PUC when his term ran out in December, is the man at the center of the controversy.
Before leaving office, he teed off on an activist who questioned what he called, “Peevey’s cozy relationship” with Southern California Edison. The exchange happened in May 2014, and was captured on video:
Activist: “What about Southern Cal Edison?”
Peevey: “About Edison? I’m not here to answer your questions. I’m not here to answer your questions. Now shut up!”
The activist Peevey was shouting at is former federal prosecutor and San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre. Aguirre says the recent search warrants indicate what he calls “the cover up” by the PUC and Southern California Edison.
“The cover up continues today and now with this search warrant executed on both the PUC officials and the SCE officials, there’s some real hope that the people of Southern California are going to have this burden lifted off their shoulder and placed where it should be,” Aguirre said via Skype.
The Union-Tribune reported Monday night that the California Public Utilities Commission could spend up to $5 million in ratepayer money on criminal defense attorneys who make nearly $900 an hour in some cases.
The warrants covered correspondences involving Peevey, a Southern California Edison official he met with in Poland, and 20 other current and former officials at the PUC and Edison.