Capitol Alert

AM Alert: Michael Peevey ends turbulent tenure as CPUC president

Michael Peevey, outgoing president of the California Public Utilities Commision, at the Senate Rules Committee on Dec. 16, 2009.
Michael Peevey, outgoing president of the California Public Utilities Commision, at the Senate Rules Committee on Dec. 16, 2009.

California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey will bring his tumultuous 12-year tenure to a close today at the commission’s final voting meeting of the year, starting at 9:30 a.m. in San Francisco. He is expected to deliver closing remarks reflecting on his two terms as head of the board that regulates California’s massive energy and telecommunications industries.

Peevey announced his exit in October, saying he would not seek reappointment when his current term as president expires at the end of the year. The news came amid revelations of back-channel communications with the companies he oversaw, including the release of a 2010 e-mail that said Peevey told a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executive that he expected the utility to spend at least $1 million against a proposition seeking to roll back California’s landmark law to reduce greenhouse gases.

Critics had previously called for Peevey’s resignation after a 2010 gas line explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people. But he always found a strong defender in Gov. Jerry Brown, who told the San Jose Mercury News in August that Peevey was “a very effective leader” who “tries to do the right thing.”

Though he’s departing amid controversy, Peevey leaves behind a more positive legacy on green energy, pushing utilities to rely on wind and solar power as California aims to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

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TO SERVE AND PROTECT: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed designating 80 areas of “critical habitat” for the western yellow-billed cuckoo across nine states, including California. The designation would not necessarily prevent further development of those areas, but it would require federal agencies to protect the threatened cuckoo’s habitat. The service will hold a public hearing on the proposal, 2 p.m. at the DoubleTree Inn on Point West Way.

NEW JOB: Steve Coony is leaving the chief deputy position he held for seven years under Treasurer Bill Lockyer to become a lobbyist for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, starting Jan. 1. Coony will lobby the Legislature and executive offices, Manatt's Tom McMorrow said, but not the office of the Treasurer. California's revolving door law prohibits government officials from lobbying the agency they were employed by for at least a year after leaving public service.

READ MORE: Michael Peevey’s exit solves political problem for Jerry Brown

Peevey leaves a mixed legacy as CPUC president

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff. Laurel Rosenhall of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.