Key legislators balk at confirming energy chief

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 28, 2006 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

The chairman of the California Energy Commission, Joseph Desmond, needs to be confirmed by the State Senate by May 7th in order to keep his job, but Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland) won’t even schedule a confirmation hearing.  

Perata cites Desmond’s support for deregulated energy markets and coal-fired power plants among the reasons why he and other lawmakers oppose Desmond’s confirmation.  He also played a key role in the governor’s failed energy reorganization plan that was rejected by the Senate last August.
Desmond caused a furor among some legislators last year when he voiced support for building a transmission line connecting Wyoming, California and other western states, which critics of the project assert will lead to an increase in the number of coal-powered plants in neighboring western states, undermining efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He was appointed last May to fill the remainder of former Chair William Keese’s term, having served prior to that as Deputy Secretary of Energy at the California Department of Resources.  In February, he was reappointed for a full term.  The reappointment restarted the clock for Senate confirmation, but by then it was evident that it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing for Desmond. 

CMTA strongly supports the reappointment of Desmond, whose in-depth understanding of California's energy markets and infrastructure has made him particularly well suited for the Energy Commission's top post.  He has the right blend of experience and dedication, and his business background has given him an appreciation for the impact of the state’s energy policies on businesses and the state's business climate.  Prior to serving in the Schwarzenegger Administration, Desmond was president and chief executive officer of Infotility, Inc., an energy consulting and software development firm.

At a minimum, Desmond deserves a confirmation hearing by the Senate Rules Committee, and an opportunity to directly address the legislators on the committee, including Senator Perata, who have expressed objections about his job performance.  It would also give Desmond’s many supporters, including CMTA, an opportunity to voice our strong support for his confirmation.
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