San Bruno Mediation: Back Room Deal Shuts Out Consumers

TURN said today that the California Public Utilities Commission’s appointment of Senator George Mitchell as mediator in the San Bruno cases was a back room deal that even parties to the case were shut out of.

Rather than choose a mediator, or choose the mediation process, TURN and other parties were told today mediation would be imposed, and that a mediator had been chosen without their input or consent. Senator Mitchell’s firm, DLA Piper, has a long list of corporate clients including Southern California Edison (which CPUC President Mike Peevey formerly headed) and Sempra Energy, the parent corporation of Southern California Gas Company and San Diego Gas & Electric.

“A mediator should be chosen by the parties, not imposed by the CPUC,” said TURN executive director Mark Toney. “Without any input from consumer advocates or other parties to the proceeding, this appears to be a backroom deal that could be a set up for a worse backroom deal. The Commission has turned a deaf ear to the public’s demands for transparency.”

Toney said that a closed-door process did not inspire confidence in the CPUC’s process. “Consumers want the CPUC to stand up for them and hold PG&E accountable, not broker a deal behind closed doors,” he said.