- Michael Peevey, the president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), announced Thursday he would not seek reappointment to the commission when his current six-year term expires on December 31. Critics said Peevey has grown too close to the companies the CPUC regulates.
- Peevey's announcement comes as improper communications between regulators and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) executives have come to light. Federal prosecutors announced this week they are investigating PG&E relationship with the CPUC.
- California Governor Jerry Brown will name Peevey's successor to the five-member PUC.
Recently-released emails between PG&E and the CPUC reveal Peevey and others may have violated the commission's rules governing ex parte communications.
In one particularly damning email, Brian Cherry, PG&E's then-vice president of regulatory relations, describes how he, Peevey and Sara—another executive at PG&E—"polished off two bottles of good Pinot" and talked work matters. During the dinner, Peevey gave public relations advice and solicited political donations over $1 million from the utility, according to the email.
Critics greeted Peevey's announcement with satisfaction. Many said Peevey's "insider approach" to regulating California's utilities was at the core of the agency's improper behavior.
But not all reactions to Peevey's tenure were purely negative. Some green groups like the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) noted that, under Peevey's tenure, the CPUC pushed aggressive clean energy incentives and tough greenhouse gas regulations. “California’s history of growing its economy while not growing (greenhouse gas) emissions has shown everyone what’s possible,” said Timothy O’Connor, Director of EDF's California Climate Initiative. “And Peevey was at the heart of it.”