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Name: Peevey, Michael
Current Position: Former President

A former utilities executive and public affairs consultant, Michael R. Peevey served as president of the Public Utilities Commission from 2002 to the end of 2014. He was appointed by Governor Gray Davis and reappointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008.

Peevey earned bachelor's and master's degrees in economics from the University of California, Berkeley. He was a senior executive at Southern California Edison Company starting in 1984 and president from 1990 to 1993. From 1993 to 1995, he served as a public affairs consultant for Winner & Associates, a public relations firm that works on a variety of political issues and public scandals. (Southern California Edison later hired Winner & Associates to deal with fallout from the California energy crisis, for example.)

Peevey founded New Energy Ventures, an energy provider that competed in California's newly deregulated market, in 1995 and sold the company in 2000. He went on to create TruePricing, a technology company that built software for large organizations to track and bring down energy costs. At the same time, he served on the boards of directors at Excelergy Corporation, a Massachusetts energy software company, and Electro Rent Corporation, which rents computer equipment. He extricated himself from involvement with all three firms when he took on his position with the PUC.

Peevey chairs the boards of directors of the California Emerging Technology Fund and the California Clean Energy Fund. Both are nonprofit collaborations between regulators and energy providers.

Peevey has contributed over $50,000 to a variety of national Democratic candidates and committees since 1997. He also gave a lone $1,000 to Republican Congressman Joe Barton, future chair of the Energy & Commerce Committee, in 1999. He is married to Democratic state Senator Carol Liu.

Peevey's history as an energy executive has made him a target for criticism about the PUC's familiar relationships with the utilities they are charged with regulating. Legislators, officials and consumer advocates have criticized Peevey and other officials for taking lavish trips abroad indirectly paid for by energy companies. Whether those trips are opportunities to observe foreign energy systems and brainstorm big-picture policy solutions or chances for corporate lobbyists to, as former PUC President Loretta Lynch said, go “partying with [their] judges” is subject to debate.

The appearance of impropriety was not improved by Peevey's decision, upon returning from Sweden on one such trip in August 2011, to emcee the retirement dinner of Southern California Edison lobbyist Bruce Foster.

While Peevey is generally lauded for his work promoting renewable energy, critics have occasionally characterized that work as self-serving. In 2008, when Peevey proposed a University of California institute to research climate change solutions, support did not extend far beyond Governor Schwarzenegger's office. Legislators thought the proposal was a legal overreach and consumer advocates objected to its funding through a ratepayer surcharge. Peevey would have chaired the institute's board.

Peevey announced he would leave at the end of his second term after the release of questionable e-mails during a court proceeding over the deadly 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion highlighted an overly cozy relationship with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) and specifically called into question some of his actions.

Some e-mails between PUC and PG&E officials discussed how to arrange for a favorable agency administrative judge to hear a rate-setting case related to the San Bruno explosion that killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood. The commission was set to vote on a proposed $1.4 billion penalty for the utility.


Biography (PUC website)

Michael R. Peevey (Total Capitol)

The Secret Life of Michael Peevey (by Rebecca Bowe, San Francisco Bay Guardian)

State PUC Chief Works Dinner for Lobbyist (by Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, San Francisco Chronicle)

PUC-Approved Institute at UC Kindles Suspicions (by John Howard, Capitol Weekly)

Why Michael Peevey Wants to Stick With State PUC (by David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle)

Embattled PUC President Peevey Leaving under Fire in December (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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