State Senator Jerry Hill, Others Pleased CPUC President Won’t Seek Reappointment

“Californians should rejoice” over the decision of California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey to not seek reappointment to a new term amid allegations of corruption and inappropriate communications with PG&E, state Sen. Jerry Hill said today in response to Peevey’s announcement.

Hill, D-San Mateo, on Wednesday had announced his intention to call for the state legislature to remove Peevey if Gov. Jerry Brown reappointed him after his current term expired at the end of his year, but Peevey today said that he would not seek a new term.

“Twelve years as president is enough,” Peevey said in a statement. “The governor, of course, will make a decision as to my successor in due time.”

Peevey said he had initially planned to make the announcement at the CPUC’s regularly scheduled meeting next Thursday, but moved it up to today.

Hill had scheduled a news conference for today calling for Peevey’s ouster, but Peevey announced his intention to step down this morning.

After Peevey’s announcement, Hill said in a statement, “the PUC will now be able to turn over a new leaf and fulfill their mission of serving the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring safe, reliable and affordable utility service.”

Allegations of corruption arose against Peevey and Commissioner Mike Florio after the release last month of emails between PG&E officials and Peevey, his then-chief of staff and Florio that allegedly show judge-shopping by the utility for an administrative law judge in a gas transmission and storage rate case.

One of the emails recounted a dinner shared by Peevey and Brian Cherry, PG&E’s former vice president of regulatory relations, after which Cherry reported that he had the impression that PG&E could get a favorable decision on a proposed rate increase if the company made a $100,000 donation to the CPUC’s upcoming 100th anniversary celebration.

Hill said the email showed “quid pro quo arrangements” between Peevey and Cherry.

Other emails have shown PG&E staff communicating with Florio and Peevey’s former chief of staff, Carol Brown, attempting to influence the choice of judge in the rate case.

PG&E has said it believes the messages violate a CPUC rule prohibiting utilities from sending off-the-record messages, known as ex parte communications, to CPUC commissioners and staff and that federal prosecutors have notified PG&E that they are investigating the emails.

Cherry and two other PG&E executives were fired over the emails and Brown resigned from her position as Peevey’s chief of staff but remains a CPUC employee.

Hill and other local and state legislators are also calling on Florio to resign.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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