Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown names former aide president of PUC

California Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Picker listens to speakers during a meeting of the five-member commission in San Francisco this month. Gov. Jerry Brown has nominated him to become president of the panel on Jan. 1.
California Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Picker listens to speakers during a meeting of the five-member commission in San Francisco this month. Gov. Jerry Brown has nominated him to become president of the panel on Jan. 1. The Associated Press

Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday designated Michael Picker, a former renewable energy adviser to the governor, as president of the embattled California Public Utilities Commission.

Picker, a member of the PUC since early this year, will replace Michael Peevey atop the board. Peevey announced in October that he would not seek reappointment as president, amid ongoing controversy surrounding back-channel communications between the commission and Pacific Gas and Electric Co. following a gas line explosion that killed eight people in San Bruno in 2010.

In addition to elevating Picker, Brown appointed Liane Randolph, a former chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, to the PUC. The board regulates California’s massive energy and telecommunications industries.

“Michael Picker’s deep experience and sound judgment make him uniquely qualified to take on this role,” Brown said in a prepared statement. “Liane Randolph has handled very difficult issues with insight and balance and will be a real asset to the commission. Most importantly, both appointees share a commitment to seeing California achieve its ambitious renewable energy goals.”

Like Brown, both Picker and Randolph are Democrats.

Picker, of Sacramento, was chief of staff to former Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna Jr. in the 1990s and was adviser to both Brown and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Picker, 62, said in a prepared statement that he would “take (Brown’s) charge to heart – reduce greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen safety programs and modernize the agency.”

Randolph, 49, of Sacramento, was chairwoman of the FPPC from 2003 to 2007. More recently she has been deputy secretary and general counsel at the California Natural Resources Agency.

Both Randolph’s appointment and Picker’s designation as president are effective Jan. 1. Picker will be paid $138,867 a year. Randolph will be paid $134,591.

Both positions require Senate confirmation.

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders.

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