With Kennedy’s departure, business loses ally at CPUC

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, Dec. 2, 2005 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The departure of Susan Kennedy from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is likely to have a significant impact on CPUC rulemakings and deliberations.

Appointed by then-Governor Gray Davis in 2003, Kennedy quickly impressed observers and stakeholders with her ability to master complicated energy and telecommunications issues in a short amount of time.  She often lobbied other commissioners to rely on open markets and not more regulations as the best approach for consumers.  During her nearly three years at the CPUC, she has consistently cast votes in favor of decisions more friendly to businesses and markets.
Her departure has now focused speculation on who will take her place.  Possible appointees include Joseph Desmond, chairman of the California Energy Commission and a key energy player in the Schwarzenegger administration, and former Senator Byron Sher, who authored many landmark environmental bills during his years in the Legislature.

The appointment of Desmond would probably not represent a significant change from Kennedy.  His in-depth understanding of California's energy markets and infrastructure issues make him particularly well suited for the post.  

If Sher were to be appointed, however, it could significantly shift the balance of the CPUC.  Sher authored several major environmental bills, including SB 1078 in 2002, which established a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and requires investor-owned utilities (IOUs) and certain other retail sellers to increase their level of renewable resources by one percent a year until a 20 percent renewable portfolio is achieved.  

CMTA supports the goal of ensuring that the state has a diverse portfolio of energy resources.  At the same time, all generation resources, including renewables, must be developed and brought online in a cost-effective manner.  Renewable power, and some of the other environmental initiatives are laudable goals, but not at any cost.

As the Governor’s new chief of staff, Kennedy is likely to play a key role in the vetting process and decision as to who will succeed her at the CPUC.
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