No surprise, CPUC president calls it quits

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The California Public Utilities Commission will have a new president next year. Michael Peevey, head of the commission for the past 12 years, announced yesterday that his current term will be his last

I originally planned to make the following announcement at the CPUC’s regularly-scheduled Voting Meeting on October 16th, but instead I am moving the announcement to today to state that I will not seek reappointment to the CPUC when my term expires at the end of this year. Twelve years as President is enough. The Governor, of course, will make a decision as to my successor in due time. I will speak more extensively regarding my terms as CPUC President at the last Voting Meeting of the year on December 18th.

It’s hardly a shock. There was little expectation that he’d be named to a third term. Peevey has been hammered in recent weeks for what appears to be a cosy (to put it politely) relationship with Pacific Gas and Electric, one of the biggest utilities the CPUC regulates. He was formerly the president of Southern California Edison and originally appointed by then-governor Gray Davis to fix the state’s electricity system, which was in something of a meltdown in 2002.

Arguably, Peevey did just that, or at least played a major role in finding and implementing solutions, and was reappointed to a second 6 year term in 2008 by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s also helped champion independent broadband infrastructure projects, among other good works. Nevertheless, Peevey has always carried a reputation of being friendly to big, incumbent utilities and lately has seemed increasingly out of step with the other 4 commissioners, all of whom were appointed by Jerry Brown.

No word yet on a replacement, and it could be the end of the year before Brown decides who it will be.

About Steve Blum

Steve Blum is president of Tellus Venture Associates, a management, planning and business development consultancy for municipal and community broadband initiatives. He is a 30-year industry veteran and an expert in developing new broadband infrastructure and services, including wireless, fiber optic and satellite systems. His career includes playing key roles in the launch and growth of DirecTv in the U.S., as well as other satellite broadcasting platforms around the world. For the past ten years, he has helped build municipal wireless and fiber optic broadband systems. His client list includes many California cities, such as San Leandro, Palo Alto, Oakland, Los Angeles, Lompoc and Folsom. He’s a member of the executive team for the Central Coast Broadband Consortium and has worked with other regional consortia in California. Steve is the author of seven books on the Internet and satellite broadcasting and is a frequent contributor to professional journals and industry events. He holds an A.B. in History from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in East Asia Studies from the University of Washington, and an M.B.A. from the University of St. Thomas. He is a triathlete and multiple Ironman finisher, and is currently ranked in the top 100 of the Challenge Triathlon world rankings, out of more than 30,000 athletes.