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UCLA data center proposal drafted months before San Onofre settlement

By Kat Bocanegra Speed

May 7, 2015 2:16 a.m.

UCLA had a proposal drafted for a $25 million data research center related to the closing of the San Onofre nuclear power plant half a year before its closure was settled in court, according to a document released by the San Diego Union-Tribune Tuesday.

In the past month, UCLA has come under scrutiny amid questions that it collaborated with former California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey to create an energy data center using $25 million from the November 2014 settlement of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station’s closure.

However, UCLA denied such claims and said Wednesday that the university had been asked by Peevey to draft the proposal in May 2014. UCLA spokesman Tod Tamberg said in an email that Peevey had requested that the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability draft a proposal for greenhouse gas emissions research in the San Onofre area that would cost specifically no more than $25 million.

He added that UCLA did not know of any funding sources for the research it outlined in the proposal and that it was only fulfilling Peevey’s request. He said UCLA did not plan to use funds from the settlement for the center.

The proposal outlines a five-year plan to establish a data research center for studying greenhouse gas emissions. The document appears to be authored in part by Stephanie Pincetl, director of the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA. The U-T San Diego released the report Tuesday after obtaining it through a public records request.

Pincetl referred to Tamberg when asked for comment.

Discussing settlement funds before a settlement is made public is not allowed, as the CPUC is required to conduct its business openly. The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Diego, owned by Southern California Edison Co., closed in 2013. The CPUC approved a $4.8 billion settlement to cover closing the plant.

An affidavit released April 29 from a former Southern California Edison executive accused Peevey of pressuring companies to donate the money for research funding as part of the settlement.

According to emails released to the U-T San Diego in March through a public records request, emails between Peevey and Pincetl showed the two talking about creating an energy data center in the months leading up to the settlement. The emails also show Peevey was offered a seat on the board of advisers of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation.

Complied by Kat Bocanegra Speed, Bruin contributor.

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