Timing of UCAN payment questioned -- Consumer group and CPUC deny any connection to San Onofre matter
Union Tribune (11 Jul 2014) Jeff Mc Donald
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Timing of UCAN payment questioned
Consumer group and CPUC deny any connection to San Onofre matter
By Jeff McDonald
7:36 p.m.July 11, 2014
A surfer rides a wave in front of the San Onofre nuclear power plant Friday, June 7, 2013, in San Onofre, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull) — AP
In mid-May, when U-T Watchdog reported
that several community groups were questioning a ratepayer settlement for closure costs of the San Onofre power plant, one local group was silent.
Utility Consumers’ Action Network executive director Donald Kelly said he did not support or oppose the plan because he had not researched it.
The next week, Kelly wrote an opinion piece
announcing his support for the plan. In late June, the California Public Utilities Commission awarded UCAN $17,000 for work on an unrelated case.
One critic of the proposed settlement, which calls for consumers to pay more than $3 billion toward the cost of shuttering the plant, worries that the payment was untoward.
“This is another illustration of how intervenor compensation is used to beat ratepayer advocates into submission,” said Michael Aguirre, the former San Diego city attorney who is fighting the plan. “It shows how the president of the PUC can wield the intervenor compensation even in unrelated matters.”
Kelly said there was no connection between his endorsement of the San Onofre cost-sharing proposal and his award from regulators.
“I wrote the op-ed because I believe the settlement is worth approving,” Kelly said. “I interviewed parties on both sides of the issue. After further review, I made a decision to support the settlement.”
A commission spokesman also said Friday that there was no nexis between the award to UCAN and Kelly’s support of the San Onofre plan.
The intervenor compensation program pays advocates, lawyers and other groups that contribute to decision-making by utility regulators out of funds charged to regulated utilities.
For decades, UCAN and other groups have sought and received millions of dollars from the utilities commission to help support their advocacy work.
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