by Michael Shellenberger
Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility attorney John Geesman is having a hard time keeping his story straight.
Last year, he told the San Diego Union Tribune that both Michael Peevey and he talked about the research center, which is at the center of the federal and state criminal investigation of the CPUC: Wrote the SD UT: "The two men talked about setting up a research group to examine impacts of greenhouse gas on the environment."
As we noted in our motion, Geesman failed to disclose in reporting his ex parte that he and Peevey talked about setting up the research group.
But yesterday, when confronted with his failure to disclose the contents of his conversation with Peevey, Geesman has changed his story. He told the SD Union Tribune: "I did file the required ex parte disclosure. Under the PUC rules, you are not supposed to disclose what the PUC decision-maker (Peevey) said, only what you said."
Wait — which is it? Did Geesman talk about the research center, as he told the SD Union Tribune last year, or did he just listen to Peevey, as he claims above?
The answer matters because from the first moment that Peevey laid out settlement terms to Southern California Edison in Poland, which included a $5 - 10 million line item for a research center, Peevey was insisting that Geesman be involved.
In his declaration to criminal investigators, former SoCal Edison executive Steven Pickett said, "President Peevey made it clear, however, that in the event of a permanent shutdown of SONGS he thought it would be best for SCE to engage in settlement negotiations with appropriate consumer groups and other interested parties, and bring a settlement proposal to the CPUC for consideration. President Peevey specifically mentioned John Geesman, who represents the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, as one possible party."
Geesman's name also came up in an email sent from So Cal Edison President Litzinger just a few weeks after Peevey made his settlement proposal to Pickett in Poland.
"[Pickett] said President Peevey feels strongly about Geesman. I merely responded his testimony shows him to be merely a “bomb thrower”. He said he is smart and could be trusted – “at least when he was in a superior position as a regulator”. I again stated his testimony was inflammatory."
Why did Peevey insist on Geesman? Why did Peevey insist Geesman "could be trusted...as a regulator" when Geesman was not — at least officially — in the role of regulator, but rather in the role of an advocate?
And why did Geesman — perhaps California's most powerful energy attorneys — go to work for Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility in the first place?
In 1979, Geesman was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to be Executive Director of the California Energy Commission. From 1997 to 2002, Attorney Geesman was Chair of the Board of Governors of the Power Exchange — which was the institution at the center of the energy crisis. In 2002 he was appointed to the board of the California Independent System Operator. In 2003 he was named Commissioner of the California Energy Commission.
In 2011, the Los Angeles Times and others reported that attorney Geesman was going to be picked by Gov. Brown to be president of the CPUC. Instead, Brown kept Commissioner Peevey — someone who was not close to Brown at all. Why would Brown choose someone outside of his inner circle rather than someone who had been inside of it since the 1970s?
This was noted by Ray Lutz of the Citizens Oversight Project, an anti-nuclear organization that nonetheless objected to CPUC dictating the terms of the SONGS closure settlement and especially to giving So Cal Edison $3.3 billion in ratepayer money to do so.
"The environmental offset was never advocated by any party in the proceeding and was not mentioned except in an ex-parte phone call from Peevey to A4 NR attorney John Geesman. Then, it was inextricably added to the settlement."
A4NR was supposedly in opposition to the SONGS settlement and yet A4NR did nothing to stop the settlement from being rammed through. If Geesman and A4NR were sincere in seeking to stop the settlement for going forward, then he would have done what Michael Aguirre did, which was to intervene forcefully in the process and demand to see all of the ex parte communications.
Why, if Geesman opposed the settlement, did he not do what Aguirre did? It can't be because he doesn't know the process — he probably knows it better than anyone. It certainly can't be because Geesman isn't a forceful person. Indeed, just a few weeks before CPUC approved the secret SONGS settlement Geesman was actually evicted from an NRC meeting due to his aggressive actions.
As a party to PG&E's proposed settlement, A4NR needs to answer explain what its role and Geesman's role were in the SONGS settlement.