Regulator recuses himself amid PG&E emails probe

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A California Public Utilities Commission member who was involved in secret email exchanges with the state's largest utility said Wednesday he is recusing himself from several matters related to the company.

Mike Florio said in a brief notice that he is removing himself from an ongoing rate case involving Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and investigations related to a PG&E pipeline explosion that killed eight people in the city of San Bruno in 2010.

"It is in the best interests of the commission — and more importantly of the public we serve — to recuse myself," Florio said.

Florio and commission President Michael Peevey have been under fire since emails were made public showing their behind-the-scenes dealings with PG&E officials.

Emails released earlier this year show Florio was involved in an email exchange over the assignment of judges.

In those emails, Peevey's then-chief of staff and Florio negotiated with Brian Cherry, PG&E's vice president for regulatory relations, on picking the administrative law judge who would hear a PG&E rate case. Peevey was copied on at least one of those emails.

Peevey has announced he will not seek reappointment when his term ends at the end of the year.

San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane praised Florio's decision and called for his resignation.

"We believe that Florio's serious violations of CPUC rules and of the public's trust, including his participation in a plot to secure a favorable judge for PG&E, should lead to his removal from the commission all together," Ruane said in a statement.

PG&E has said Cherry and two other senior officials ended their employment with the utility as a result of the emails.