Governor Submits Energy ‘Reorg’ Plan

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, June 22, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger formally submitted his energy agency reorganization plan to the Legislature on June 13th.  Governor’s Reorganization Plan (GPR 3) consolidates various energy functions and creates a cabinet-level Energy Department.

The department would combine the Energy Commission, the Power Authority, and some energy-related functions of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).  The CPUC would still retain authority over electricity rates.

The Energy Commission would be under the new department, and headed by the Secretary of Energy, who would be Chairman of the Commission and who would serve at the pleasure of the Governor (and hence could be removed by the Governor at any time).  The four other commissioners would serve four-year terms.  All five would require Senate confirmation.

The Secretary of Energy would become, in effect, the state’s energy czar, and would be the focal point of energy policy in the state.  All department staff would report directly to the secretary.

The plan would transfer electric transmission and natural gas permitting from the CPUC to the Energy Commission, which is presently responsible for power plant siting.  The responsibilities of the Electricity Oversight Board, which has limited oversight over the California Independent System Operator, would be transferred to the new Office of Energy Market Oversight within the department, under the direction of the Secretary of Energy.
The Administration’s aim in proposing the plan is to improve accountability and give the governor’s office more control over state energy policies.  According to Joe Desmond, the chairman of the Energy Commission and odds-on candidate to become Secretary of Energy should the plan be approved, "It [GPR 3] impacts on jobs, on industry, on consumers and the environment.  For California to move forward, it needs to have a consistent, consolidated view and speak with one voice on energy policy.  This proposal accomplishes these objectives."

The Legislature has 60 days from June 13 to either accept or reject the proposal.  It cannot be amended now that it has been formally submitted to the Legislature.  The ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ aspect of the plan will undoubtedly increase the difficulty of getting it through the Democratic-led Legislature.  Democratic staffers have already voiced concerns about the plan being a ‘power-grab’ by the executive branch.

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