Hearings planned on regulator, utility relationships

AP News
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Posted: Feb 18, 2015 7:02 PM
Hearings planned on regulator, utility relationships

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A state lawmaker will hold oversight hearings into allegations of wrongdoing at the Public Utilities Commission — particularly involving its relationship with Southern California Edison, the principal owner of the now-shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.

Assemblyman Anthony Rendon, chairman of the Utilities and Commerce Committee, wants to examine possible cronyism and improper contacts between the commission and the power company.

"The issue of oversight and accountability is something my office takes seriously," the Lakewood Democrat told the Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/1LaOLcO ).

The hearings will begin next month.

Rendon said the investigation will include reviewing a settlement approved by the PUC in November. It called for customers of Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to pay $3.3 billion out of the $4.7-billion cost of closing the nuclear plant. The San Diego utility co-owns the plant.

San Onofre shut down in 2013 after a long fight over whether it was safe to restart the coastal plant. It had been idle since January 2012, after a small radiation leak led to the discovery of damage to hundreds of tubes inside virtually new steam generators.

A Sacramento-based union group, the California State Association of Electrical Workers, requested an investigation of what it characterized as "clandestine" meetings between Edison and Michael Peevey, who stepped down last year after two terms as PUC president.

The request was made in letters sent last week to Rendon and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

In a statement, Edison said the electrical workers' group was mischaracterizing issues related to the PUC and San Onofre as a bargaining tactic in current labor negotiations. The company said it believes meetings in Poland between an executive and Peevey were legal.

The company said it will cooperate with regulators and legislative bodies.

Meanwhile, Peevey's contacts with executives of Edison and San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric Co. are under separate investigations by the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco and the California attorney general's office. A search warrant was served at his home last month.

Peevey has denied any wrongdoing. He has not been available for comment since his departure, the Times said.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, http://www.latimes.com/