The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday penalized Southern California Edison $16.7 million for failing to report communications between Edison executives and the commission regarding the shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear plant.

Commission investigators determined that Southern California Edison, the utility subsidiary of Edison International of Rosemead, communicated with commission staff members at least eight times without reporting those communications to the commission in a timely manner.

Most of those communications occurred during a March 2013 conference at a hotel in Warsaw, Poland attended by Edison executives and then-commission President Michael Peevey, who has since resigned his post. The communications revolved around Edison’s forthcoming announcement that it would permanently shutter the San Onofre nuclear plant in northern San Diego County. Edison was the majority stakeholder in the plant, which was taken offline in January 2012 after a small leak and discovery of cracks in tubes of a newly-built generator.

Edison did not officially report the communications to the commission until February of this year. Commission rules require any communications – email, phone or in person – between utility staff and commission staff or members to be reported within a few days.

“Ensuring that parties follow reporting requirements is critical to promote transparency,” Commissioner Catherine Sandoval said in a press release announcing the penalty. “The failure of Edison to follow reporting rules that protect the integrity of a decision-making process merits the significant penalty imposed.”

Southern California Edison issued a statement Thursday afternoon, “respectfully” disagreeing with the penalty.

“The decision reinforces the need for clearer ex parte rules and we support comprehensive reform of those rules,” Southern California Edison President Pedro Pizarro said in a statement. “We have already strengthened internal procedures to ensure our employees understand their obligation to adhere to the highest ethical standards when interacting with the CPUC.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.