California power regulator to exit amid criticism

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's chief utility regulator, under fire over accusations of secret dealings with the state's largest utility, said Thursday he will not seek reappointment when his term ends at the end of the year.

California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey made after a state lawmaker said he would bring legislation to block Peevey's reappointment to a second term.

Peevey is under fire in connection with a series of emails describing alleged backroom dealings between him and others at the commission and California's biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.

In emails released Monday, a PG&E official said Peevey pressed him for more than $1 million in campaign donations and other funds.

The emails are the latest in a series released by the utility and others that allegedly show PG&E executives privately negotiating with California Public Utilities Commission officials on matters related to rate increases and financial penalties.

"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."

A call to the governor's office was not immediately returned.

The emails released by the utility on Monday describe Peevey seeking political and other donations during a 2010 dinner in which he and then-PG&E Vice President Brian Cherry also discussed at least five PG&E regulatory matters before the commission.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. also said prosecutors have informed the utility that federal authorities are investigating the legality of five years of back-channel communications between PG&E and the utility commission. The U.S. attorney's office said it would have no comment.

Peevey was appointed president of the commission by Gov. Gray Davis in March 2002 in the wake of California's energy crisis. In December 2008, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reappointed him for another six-year term, according to his biography on the commission's website.

State Sen. Jerry Hill was expected to announce Thursday that he planned to introduce legislation that would prevent Peevey from being reappointed when his term expired.