released emails between CPUC and PG&E regarding Diablo Canyon License Renewal
In February, 2015, PG&E released 65,000 emails detailing their communications with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as part of a case involving the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion in 2010. In searching through the enormous volume of material, the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility (A4NR) has located a dozen that deal directly with the relicensing funding application of PG&E, which had been submitted to the CPUC in January 2010 (Application 10-01-022). These emails occur in April 2011, in the month that followed the tragic nuclear disaster and meltdown at Fukushima, Japan.
The concerns raised are twofold: First, under the rules of the CPUC, any such communications between key decision makers (Commissioners, judges and their key advisors) and outside parties (both utilities and advocates) must be formally noticed via an exparte communication that documents the nature of the contact (email, conversation, etc.) and the content (including any attachments or documents discussed). In the situations outlined below, PG&E did not file exparte documents as required.
Second: In the month following Fukushima, PG&E was on one hand assuring the public that it was making seismic safety analysis a priority and asking the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to delay action on its license renewal, writing that “…it plans to accelerate completion of advanced 3-D seismic studies related to the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. PG&E also formally asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) today to delay final action on the utility’s on-going license renewal application until PG&E submits the findings to the commission.”
On the other hand, as these emails document, PG&E wanted no delays in seeking funding for license renewal–before any seismic studies were completed–and getting CPUC approval for those funds. A4NR–an intervenor in the CPUC–case contended that giving license renewal funding before the seismic studies were completed would waste ratepayer money if ultimately the seismic studies proved the reactor site was not safe for continued operation. Undeterred, PG&E’s vice president of regulatory relations Brian Cherry wrote CPUC president Michael Peevey on month after Fukushima: “…and resurrect our application and get it back on track ?
To which Peevey replied, “Yep. I will have Carol talk to Barnett.” [NOTE: “Carol” was Peevey’s advisor; Barnett was the administrative law judge on the case]
PG&E’s Cherry responds: “Thanks. The sooner the better.” And Peevey answers, “May.”
The documents are presented below in chronological order with summary descriptions.
A: April 10, 2011 — Letter from John Conway, PG&E to NRC “Request for Deferral of Issuance of Diablo Canyon Power Plant Renewed Operating Licenses”
B: April 11, 2011 — PG&E Press Release: “PG&E Commits to Finishing 3-D Seismic Studies Related to Diablo Canyon Before Seeking Final Issuance of Renewed Licenses Utility Seeks to Address Public Concern Regarding Seismic Safety”
C: April 11, 2011 — email from CPUC President Peevey to Brian Cherry, PG&E (read from the bottom up, starting with Peevey’s response to the press release, document “B” above)
D: April 11, 2011 — email from CPUC President Peevey and Brian Cherry regarding distribution of the aforementioned PG&E press release to Sam Blakeslee and Sacramento
E: April 12, 2011 — Letter from PG&E’s attorneys to the NRC clarifying that PG&E only wants the final issuance of a license renewal to be delayed, but that all intermediate ongoing steps towards license renewal should continue
F: April 14, 2011 — PG&E’s Cherry promises to get Peevey a write up on the license renewal status
G: April 14, 2011 — email from PG&E’s Cherry to CPUC Commissioner Tim Simon with a biography of PG&E’s chief nuclear officer (and quoted in the above PG&E press release) John Conway prior to a conference call between them. Both this email, and the conference call itself should have been noticed with exparte communications.
H: April 15, 2011 — email from PG&E’s Cherry to President Peevey entitled: “PRIV & CONFID: DCPP Seismic Permitting Primer”
I: April 18, 2011 — (read from the bottom up) email from Eric Greene, Energy Division CPUC to PG&E’s Cherry and attorney Jennifer Post regarding public misperception of the relicensing process, including: “I have heard Senator Sam Blakeslee and the A4NR say that ratepayers should not be burdened with paying these monies for re-licensing now. But to me, PG&E is incurring the expenses, which are legitimate, and will continue to incur expenses as the process moves forward.”
J: April 18, 2011 — email from Eric Greene to PG&E notifying them that CPUC Commissioner Florio has been assigned the relicensing case.
K: April 19, 2011 — email from PG&E’s Cherry to Carol Brown, advisor to Peevey, with a strategy for regarding the license renewal funding case.
L: April 22, 2011 — email from PG&E to the CPUC Commissioner’s staff notifying them of schedules and opportunities to tour the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant site
M: April 11, 2011 — email from PG&E’s Cherry to CPUC Commissioner Timothy Simon describing PG&E’s letter to the NRC asking for a delay in issuing the final license
N: June 1, 2011 — email from PG&E’s Cherry to CPUC Commissioner Florio asking if the Commissioner would have a problem with PG&E suspending the procedural schedule in the relicensing proceeding.
O: June 9, 2011 — email from PG&E’s Cherry to all CPUC commissioners announcing plan to suspend license renewal schedule.