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PUC Attorney Who Was Hired to Lobby for SDG&E; Denies There’s Any Conflict

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Times Staff Writer

A state Public Utilities Commission attorney who will begin a new job in January as a lobbyist for San Diego Gas & Electric said Tuesday that he would resign his post immediately if the PUC found that his new employment is in conflict with his continuing regulatory work.

But Alvin Pak, who will become a lobbyist in SDG&E;’s San Francisco office Jan. 2, said that he has halted his involvement in SDG&E; matters pending before the commission.

Pak, a staff attorney for outgoing Commissioner Victor Calvo, said he withdrew from “principal cases involving SDG&E; directly” in early October, after the utility approached him about a job.

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Pak acknowledged that he recently took part in two PUC staff meetings but said he did so to explain legal memoranda that he had drafted relating to a PUC decision on how to allocate the $4.5-billion construction cost of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Units 2 and 3.

Pak said he prepared the memoranda before talking with SDG&E; about the lobbying job.

Pak said he advised Calvo about the SDG&E; job offer in a letter dated Oct. 14, and that he and Calvo “have been pretty clear about what . . . I could or couldn’t do.”

Calvo on Tuesday dismissed Pak’s offer to resign.

“I don’t think he’s done anything he shouldn’t have done,” Calvo said. “He hasn’t advised me on any (SDG&E;) cases, . . . and I would hope that he’d stay on for the remaining two months of my term.”

But Michael Shames, executive director of the San Diego-based Utility Consumer Action Network, questioned SDG&E;’s motives for hiring Pak.

“The bottom line is that SDG&E; stood to benefit from Pak not being around,” Shames said. “He’s been quoted as saying he had some ideas that might have cost SDG&E; a couple hundred million dollars (in San Onofre-related fines) had he not been forced to withdraw.”

Pak “should have packed up his bags and left once he accepted the job offer,” Shames said.

“I don’t know if SDG&E; intended to do it or not, but they have at the least inadvertently tampered” with the San Onofre proceedings by hiring Pak, Shames said.

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PUC commissioners will tackle the question of who should pay the $4.5 billion in construction costs at San Onofre Units 2 and 3 during a special meeting this morning in San Francisco. The units are jointly owned by SDG&E; and Southern California Edison.

Pak said Tuesday that he has “developed a list of cases that I cannot work on, where I have a potential conflict of interest.” He said he is now working on issues “involving telecommunications--that’s my primary area of responsibility these days.”

Pak also said that he had told SDG&E; that “if they see any problems, they’re free to withdraw the job offer.”

SDG&E; “doesn’t see any need to take that kind of action,” according to Yole Whiting, SDG&E;’s regulatory supervisor. “Everything that has been done has been very proper. Al talked to the (PUC) lawyers on how to act and operate.

“SDG&E; certainly has not received, nor do we expect to receive, any special treatment from Al Pak.”

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