Shake-Up at Public Utilities Commission

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Jan. 11, 2003 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Governor Gray Davis has named Commissioner Michael R. Peevey to replace Loretta Lynch as president of the California Public Utilities Commission. The change was announced on Dec. 31, and took effect immediately. Lynch will remain on the Commission.

The Governor also named Susan Kennedy, a key member of his staff, to replace outgoing Commissioner Henry Duque.

The reshuffling is likely to have a significant impact on CPUC policies, and put the Commission on a more centrist footing. Lynch is an unabashed advocate of re-regulating energy markets, and has frequently been at odds with the business community in numerous proceedings at the CPUC, including direct access. Last March, she voted along with Commissioner Carl Wood to roll back the direct access suspension date which would have forced a majority of direct access customers back to bundled service. This was the first of a number of times last year that Lynch and Wood were on the losing side of CPUC votes, and created speculation that Lynch would eventually be demoted.

Peevey and Kennedy favor a more balanced approach, and one less averse to business interests. Upon her appointment, Kennedy said she would follow a "centrist" course.

The appointment of Kennedy gives Governor Davis all five appointees on the Commission. Kennedy replaced Commissioner Duque, a Pete Wilson appointee whose term expired at the end of the year.

President Peevey has extensive experience in the energy industry. He served as president of Edison International and Southern California Edison from 1990 to 1993. From 1995 to 2000, he was president of NewEnergy, Inc., the largest energy service provider in the nation. He also served as Chief Executive Officer of TruePricing, Inc., a company which helps large companies manage their energy costs. During the energy crisis, Peevey was an unpaid energy adviser to the governor.

Peevey?s years of experience and knowledge of energy issues have provided the CPUC with a valuable new perspective. He has first-hand experience both running a major utility and the largest energy service provider in the country.

During the energy crisis, Kennedy played a key role in the formation of the governor's energy policies, and impressed Capitol observers and stakeholders with her ability to master complicated subjects in a short amount of time.

Kennedy served as Cabinet Secretary during Davis?s first term. Prior to that, she was Communications Director to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein.

CMTA looks forward to working with Peevey, Kennedy and the other commissioners to promote rational, fact-based decision-making at the CPUC. This promises to be a significant year at the Commission, with several important proceedings, including the Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California general rate cases, departing load cost responsibility, and exit fee implementation, to be decided
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