Governor Brown picks two "closest advisors" for CPUC

29 December 2016 by Steve Blum
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The inner circle.

Cliff Rechtschaffen, a senior advisor to governor Brown, and Martha Guzman Aceves, his deputy legislative affairs secretary, were appointed to fill two soon-to-be vacant slots on the California Public Utilities Commission yesterday. Governor Brown issued a press release saying “both have sound judgment and a commitment to protecting ratepayers and ensuring safe, reliable and climate-friendly energy in California”.

They have something else: a tight working relationship with Brown. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times by John Myers

Gov. Jerry Brown has chosen two of his closest advisors on environmental and climate change issues to fill positions on the California Public Utilities Commission.

Guzman Aceves’ background includes work for California Rural Legal Assistance and stints as a lobbyist, for the United Farm Workers union, as a freelancer and in her current job as the governor’s point person for “natural resources, environmental protection, energy and food and agriculture” at the legislature. Rechtschaffen is an attorney with a long list of environmental law jobs to his credit, as well as a short stint running the state conservation department. He works on “climate, energy and environmental issues” for the governor. Both will have to be confirmed by the state senate, although they will be able to take their seats on the commission and serve without confirmation through 2017.

What neither has, though, is significant experience with utility regulation or rate setting, or with telecommunications. No doubt that their careers, which have strong focus on energy and the environment, gives them more than a passing familiarity with regulatory issues, but that’s the extent of it. By contrast, they’re replacing Catherine Sandoval, who is an expert in telecoms law and regulation, and Mike Florio, who has decades of utility consumer advocacy experience as a senior attorney for TURN and well understands the complicated mechanics of determining rates, for telecoms, electricity and other utilities.