Peevey's (ex parte) Party Protested – "The CPUC is now a rogue agency."

“The CPUC is now a rogue agency. All the checks and balances that existed at the CPUC have been corrupted. Peevey led that corruption.” Loretta Lynch, former CPUC Commission President

Protestors Denounce Swanky Hanky Panky in SF

On February 12, 2015, summoned by gold-embossed invitations, members of the ruling energy elite gathered in the glittering splendor of the Julia Morgan Ballroom – one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s posh venues – to honor one of their own and show their solidarity with him in his current travails.

That would be Michael Peevey (left), who recently stepped down from the Presidency of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) after a 12-year reign amid a barrage of investigations and revelations about backroom dealing between him, his colleagues and staff, and the utility officials they were supposed to be regulating.

At the time of the gala in the grandeur of the JMB, Peevey’s home had been recently raided by state and Federal law enforcement agents intent on seizing evidence for their ongoing investigations. A trove of 65,000 e-mails just released by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) detailing the interactions of utility and Commission personnel was already revealing alarming, plot-thickening evidence.

At issue were so-called ex parte communications between utility executives and CPUC officials conducted in private out of public view and process. Such interactions are supposed to be reported in writing to the CPUC proceeding participants, as “ex-parte” meetings. Apparently, under Peevey, there were a lot that were not.

The ornate Julia Morgan Ballroom was the venue for $250-a-plate Peevey gala with proceeds going to the UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Business.

Peevey Ex Parte Party Poopers
So, not everyone at the entrance to the JMB that night was there to celebrate Mr. Peevey’s legacy. Slightly outnumbering the team of security men were protesters holding a news conference at the door as the celebrants entered. (Full disclosure, EON both documented and participated. Scroll down for video reports and media links).

MC-ing the conference, covered by media from radio, print and TV, was Ray Lutz of the San Diego-based CitizensOversight.org, who had set up a podium and sound system and articulated his many concerns with the way Peevey’s PUC did business.

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“CPUC now a rogue agency” – Former CPUC President Joins Protestors, Speaks Out

Most prominent among the speakers was former CPUC President, Loretta Lynch, Peevey’s predecessor, who minced no words in denouncing the corporate capture of the CPUC under Peevey and labeling the evening’s gala as “one big ex parte meeting” behind closed doors.

For a former Commission President to show up and speak out publicly on behalf of rate-payers at the event underlined the seriousness of the current CPUC situation and the urgent need for focused public attention and action.

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Citing the progressive purposes that led almost a century ago to the founding of the CPUC by then Gov. Hiram Johnson in response to public outrage at the corporate crimes of the time, former CPUC President Lynch called for today’s Californians to rise up and demand substantive reforms in the now-compromised and discredited Commission, whose mandate is protection of the public good, not corporate profits. See her recent Chronicle Op-Ed piece : Guidelines for the post-Peevey era of the CPUC

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Who Pays for the ‘Smart Meter’ Fiasco?
Mary Beth Brangan of EON, an official intervenor at the CPUC on behalf of the public’s interests in the ‘smart meter’ forced deployment controversy, is part of a coalition of citizen groups which oppose that deployment as a threat to human health and safety, privacy, grid security and democratic choice. Over 57 cities, counties and one tribe joined in various forms of opposition to the forced installation of ‘smart’ meters. That strong coalition was infiltrated, spied on and labeled ‘insurgents’ by PG&E management.

The CPUC, now revealed by the released emails to have been part of that behind-the-scenes blocking of action to remedy the extremely real ratepayer concerns and injuries, ordered a charade of an investigation, and PG&E was ultimately forced to pay a small fine to the state’s general fund. The CPUC hid its complicity at the time but that is now being thoroughly revealed through the released emails.

EON joins many others in saying the patterns of practice revealed by the e-mail record and the cloud of corruption surrounding Peevey’s departure from the Commission throw the legitimacy and legality of all the proceedings and decisions made under his administration into doubt.

EON has filed for a rehearing of the recent CPUC ‘smart’ meter opt-out decision which forces customers to pay an extortionate fee not to have electro-toxic, privacy-violating wireless transmitters attached to their residences. Furthermore we believe the current decision is unjust and illegal in its attempts to strip municipal and county elected officials of their constitutionally mandated power and responsibilities to protect the safety and privacy of their constituents. It actually asserts that utilities’ rights trump locally elected officials in regard to municipal franchise agreements that are used to regulate utilities’ activities in local jurisdictions.

At the press conference, Brangan pointed out the parallel methods used by the CPUC in both the San Onofre proceeding to determine who pays for So Cal Edison’s costly mistakes and mismanagement and the ‘smart’ meter proceeding that determined who should bear the cost of opting out of harmful and dangerous ‘smart’ meters. She emphasized the need for true regulator protection for ratepayers against the powerful utilities.

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Who Pays for San Onofre?
San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre and his law partner Maria Severson added their pressure and litigation to that of the city of San Bruno’s that led to the revealing release of the 65,000 e-mails. Aguirre and Severson recently published a report detailing their findings of “Malfeasance and Institutional Corruption at the California Public Utilities Commission.” [ pdf here ] ( Scroll down for our interviews with Severson and Aguirre )

Aguirre called for an investigation into why the CPUC under Peevey ruled that ratepayers must pay $3.5 billion for electricity they will never get from Southern California Edison’s San Onofre nuclear power plant, which has been permanently shut down because of faulty and illegal decisions made by the utility’s management.

However, even though San Onofte nuclear reactors are shut down, the plant must continue to store thousands of metric tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste, currently stored in thin steel containers that the NRC says may crack from the marine environment. [ For more information on this vital issue – how to manage hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive waste that is deadly for longer than human civilization has yet existed, now kept on-site at over 100 nuclear plants around the country with no ecologically safe facilities to go to – visit Donna Gilmore’s excellent website: SanOnofreSafety.org ]

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Who Will Defend Diablo Whistleblowers?
Steve Zeltzer of the Labor Project called for protection of whistleblowing workers. He pointed out that both PG&E and Southern California Edison fired and retaliated against workers who tried to address serious safety issues. If workers concerned about what they see endangering the public can’t speak out and get results, we all suffer. The real results are the deaths, injuries and devastation in San Bruno, as well as the San Onofre radiation leaks and thousands of injuries and many fires from ‘smart’ meters.

He demanded that not only CPUC officials but colluding PG&E and So Cal Edison executives be indicted and prosecuted for their criminal acts that resulted in deaths and injuries and the highest electricity rates in the country.

Video Reports and Media Links are below:

Protesting Peevey’s (ex parte) Party
On February 12, 2015, dozens of the closest elite friends of out-going CPUC President Michael Peevey’s paid $250 per plate to gather at the posh Julia Morgan Ballroom in downtown San Francisco in celebration of Mr. Peevey’s ‘lifetime accomplishments.’

Greeting them at the door were protestors – including Loretta Lynch, his predecessor as Commission President. They came not to celebrate, but to condemn and expose the culture of corruption Peevey’s 12 year reign has left behind.

Speakers include former California Public Utilities Commission President Loretta Lynch; Ray Lutz of CitizenOversight.org; EON’s Mary Beth Brangan; Steve Zeltzer of the Labor Video Project; and San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre.

Viewer Embed Code:

From CBS Channel 5:
San Francisco Dinner Honoring Ex-CPUC Exec Accused Of Shady Dealings Met With Protests

From NBC – Jul 31, 2013
Flown, Wined and Dined on Lobbyists’ Dimes?
CPUC president accepted $165,000 in free travel from nonprofits and special interests in past six years

EON Skype Interview
Busting CPUC Backroom Deals – Maria Severson
In this Skype interview, San Diego attorney Maria Severson talks about the implications of revelations from PG&E’s trove of 65,000 e-mail exchanges between its executives and California Public Utilities Commission officials, including former CPUC President Peevey.

(We regret that the audio and video quality in this interview conducted via Skype is not up to our usual standards. But we believe the content is important to make public.)

EON Video
Who Pays for San Onofre? – Mike Aguirre
Attorney Mike Aguirre and his law partner Maria Severson are at the center of the emerging revelations about CPUC officials’ too cozy relationships with the officials of the utilities they are supposed to regulate. In this May 2014 interview Aguirre explains the key issues in this now-expanding case. He tells how his attempts to question then CPUC President Peevey provoked an outburst that may have marked the beginning of Peevey’s current troubles.

Related Media Links

UT-San Diego
Flawed San Onofre project steamed on
$680 million replacement generators were not subject to formal cost study
By Jeff McDonald9:03 a.m.Feb. 14, 2015Updated4:18 p.m.

…It was a bombshell disclosure by any measure: the top utility regulator in California sketching out a multibillion-dollar deal with the senior Edison lawyer in secret at a luxury hotel in Warsaw, Poland…. Pickett, whose house is walking distance from Peevey’s home in the La Canada Flintridge section of Los Angeles, jotted down the potential points of agreement, which Peevey kept.

Chronicle
Regulator let PG&E investigate itself after San Bruno blast
By Jaxon Van Derbeken
Updated 7:42 pm, Saturday, February 21, 2015

CBS
San Francisco Dinner Honoring Ex-CPUC Exec Accused Of Shady Dealings Met With Protests

UT-San Diego
Senator blasts Cal over Peevey party
The school will receive proceeds from celebration of outgoing utilities chief
By Jeff McDonald4:22 p.m.Feb. 12, 2015

Dan Walters Daily: Michael Peevey tribute is improper
Published on Feb 10, 2015
Despite revelations of questionable professional conduct, California’s political elite will gather this week to honor former Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey, Dan says. (February 11, 2015)

Chronicle
Protesters try to spoil swanky party for ex-CPUC head
By J.K. Dineen
Updated 8:47 am, Friday, February 13, 2015

KQED
CPUC Publishes 65,000 Emails Between Regulators and PG&E

San Jose Mercury
San Bruno disaster: PG&E releases 65,000 emails to PUC
By George Avalos and Pete Carey – Staff writers

LA Times
65,000 PUC-PG&E emails released amid state and federal probes

Contra Costa Times
PG&E wields “pervasive” influence at PUC, now described as a “rogue agency”
By George Avalos and Josh Richman – Staff writers

LA Times
New PUC chief Michael Picker vows openness, focus on safety

SFBG This Week
The secret life of Michael Peevey
California’s top energy regulator rolls with power company executives behind the scenes
05.24.11 – 3:25 pm | Rebecca Bowe |

SFBG This Week
The secret life of Michael Peevey – Page 3

TURN
The Secret Life of Michael Peevey
TURN objects to fox guarding the hen house. CPUC President Peevey is too cozy with the utility companies he regulates.

Teams of researchers are indexing, archiving and examining the recently released trove of 120,000+ PG&E/CPUC e-mail exchanges. Attorneys are pressing for release of more e-mail exchanges with Southern California Edison (SCE). Watch this space for reporting on more revelations as they emerge.

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