Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gas Pains at Berkeley: Anyone Embarrassed?

A UC-Berkeley fundraiser for the outgoing head of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is raising issues since he is under investigation for what appears to be a textbook case of regulatory capture of the agency by utilities. There have been major regulatory concerns in recent years including improper maintenance of a gas line that exploded in the Bay Area with deadly results.

Former state Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey — whose home was recently searched by investigators looking into possible corruption at the agency — will be feted Thursday night with a $250-a-plate fundraiser for UC Berkeley’s public policy school. The party honors the 76-year-old former utility executive and commission leader for his “lifetime of service,” but critics have denounced the gathering, citing the troubles besetting the state agency and its lax regulatory oversight record before the deadly explosion of a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. pipeline in San Bruno in 2010... The event Thursday night will raise money for the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, where Peevey serves on the advisory board. It is being organized by a San Francisco public relations executive and a former utilities commissioner who now lobbies for PG&E... The gathering at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco comes as revelations pile up surrounding e-mails between PG&E executives and top commission officials, including Peevey. State agents who searched Peevey’s home in La Cañada Flintridge (Los Angeles County) on Jan. 27 reported in court documents that they had found notes written on stationery from a hotel in Warsaw. Officials with Southern California Edison, the utility that Peevey used to head, said this week that the notes documented a previously undisclosed meeting between Peevey and a company official over problems at the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Critics say the notes are proof that Peevey secretly brokered a deal to saddle Edison customers with more than $3 billion in costs for decommissioning the plant.The agents who searched Peevey’s home were also looking for evidence of bribery, judge shopping and influence peddling related to rate-setting cases and other matters before the commission, according to a search warrant affidavit...

Full story at

No comments: