Energy Settlement to Fund Energy Policy Center

Funds from a lawsuit against Duke Energy will go towards establishing an Energy Policy Initiative Center (EPIC) on the campus of the University of San Diego (USD). The $2.7 million settlement to San Diego County was only a part of the compensation that went to several small and large counties throughout the state that were participating in a class action suit against Duke Energy for overcharging consumers on their utility bills during 2000 and 2001.

“The EPIC will integrate research, law school study, and public education, and legal advocacy to provide expertise and information about future energy needs and their efficient and environmentally responsible provision,” said Daniel Rodriguez, who is the dean at the USD School of Law. “Our school is extremely grateful to the Office of the District Attorney for giving us this opportunity and entrusting us with the responsibility to build a center that will provide long term benefits to San Diego County residents.” An academic and research center, EPIC will study energy supply, costs, and opportunities and how they affect the San Diego County region and Southern California. The center became a reality partly because of Robert Fellmeth, a USD Law School professor and executive director of the USD Center for Public Interest Law, who presented the state Attorney General’s office with the proposal for San Diego’s portion of the settlement. Part of the center’s mission will be to encourage the use of alternative, environmentally friendly energy resources. District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis approved the proposal. “We pursued this case because we felt it was critical to hold Duke Energy accountable,” Dumanis said. “As our office vigorously prosecuted our case, we knew that the most effective use of any settlement funds would not result in nominal returns to rate payers, but instead would be used to educate those committed to finding permanent solutions to our region’s ever-growing energy problems.” Fellmeth called the EPIC program “unique, and conceivably the only one of this type in the nation.” The University of San Diego School of Law is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools.
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