By Miriam Raftery
April 4, 2018 (San Diego) – The California Public Utilities Commission is considering whether or not to approve a settlement over the San Onofre nuclear power plant that shut down in 2013 due to steam generators that were leaking radiation.
But consumer advocacy groups are split over whether or not regulators should approve the deal to settle a lawsuit filed by San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre on behalf of ratepayers.
An earlier proposed settlement would have stuck ratepayers with $3 million in payments. The current version drops that to $2 billion, for which ratepayers have already been billed.
Charles Langley from Public Watchdogs wants the CPUC to reject the settlement, arguing that it is illegal to saddle ratepayers with charges for non-working equipment. If the settlement were to be rejected, ratepayers could potentially get refunds.
But other organizations including the Utility Consumers Action Network or UCAN and The Utility Reform Network or TURN have agreed to the settlement.
Aguirre told KPBS that he fought for five years to get the best deal he could for consumers. The settlement includes $5 million in legal fees for Aguirre. Aguirre has battled the CPUC in other cases on behalf of ratepayers, some at his own expense when legal fees were rejected by state regulators.
But Langley contends that the settlement was negotiated behind closed doors to prevent evidence of criminal activity from being disclosed in public hearings. He claims the attorneys and other parties settled to take “easy money at the public’s expense.”