The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, shut down since 2012 and now being decommissioned. Photo courtesy Southern California Edison
The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, shut down since 2012 and now being decommissioned. Photo courtesy Southern California Edison

Southern California Edison was slapped with a $16.7 million fine Thursday by the California Public Utilities Commission for failing to report secret talks between Edison executives and regulators following the shuttering of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

Between March 26, 2013 and June 17, 2014 Edison engaged in eight unreported communications, violating their rules of practice and procedure, the CPUC said.

The talks related to the payment of the costs for the January 2012 shutdown of the power plant, according to media reports.

The fine stems from communication between former commission President Michael Peevey and Edison’s then-executive vice president for external relations, Stephen Pickett, during an industry meeting in Warsaw, Poland, the reports said.

“The acts and omissions of Edison and its employees, which misled the CPUC, showed disrespect for the CPUC’s rules, and undermined public confidence in the CPUC,” the commission said.

Edison also was ordered by the commission to develop a public website that tracks all the non-public individual communications related to the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station investigation.

Edison said in a statement they were disappointed with the CPUC’s decision.

“The decision reinforces the need for clearer ex parte rules and we support comprehensive reform of those rules,” SCE President Pedro Pizarro said. “We have already strengthened internal procedures to ensure our employees understand their obligation to adhere to the highest ethical standards when interacting with the CPUC.”

Any communications with decision-makers are required to be reported, according to the commission

SCE is the majority owner of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, which they own along with San Diego Gas & Electric. The two owners paid $1.4 billion in costs to close the reactors while their customers are on the hook for the $3.3 billion in leftover costs.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station has not operated since January 2012 when a small, non-injury leak occurred. SCE later decided to retire the two reactors rather than follow a costly start-up procedure.

— City News Service

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