The secret life of Michael Peevey - Page 3

California's top energy regulator rolls with power company executives behind the scenes

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Michael Peevey, California's top utility regulator, attended several trips last year with utility executives.
GUARDIAN PHOTO BY LUKE THOMAS

Loretta Lynch, a former president of the CPUC who brought a reformist spirit to the agency and was never shy about rebuking utilities, is skeptical of CFEE's stated program goals. When she was first appointed to the commission, Lynch said, CFEE contacted her to ask where she wanted to travel. If the trips are arranged to fly regulators to destinations they've been itching to visit, she reasoned, must-see green innovations probably aren't dictating the itineraries. "To me," Lynch said, "they don't have anything to study in mind."

 

"PARTYING WITH THE JUDGE"

The CFEE trip to Spain included a briefing on developing wind energy from AES, a company working on wind and solar development in California that also operates polluting, gas-fired power plants in Huntington Beach, Long Beach, and Redondo Beach. There was a round table on solar energy featuring a presentation from the Independent Energy Producers Association, a trade group that regularly files petitions and comments on CPUC proceedings. The trip included a tour of a desalination plant, a talk from the president of the Madrid Chamber of Commerce, and discussions about California's energy market. Scheduled activities ended by midafternoon on some days, and the itinerary left a Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday in Sevilla wide open.

Asked to comment on concerns about inappropriate lobbying, Johnston said: "We're not guarding against anyone's potential behavior any more than we would be on the streets of Sacramento. We're not setting ourselves up as the guardians. We're not facilitating that, per se, either." He added, "I realize there are critics of any kind of travel and any kind of commingling. But it is wise for us not to close our eyes to the rest of the world, and there's not a great appetite for spending taxpayer money on these trips."

Yet Lynch countered that there is an important distinction between the roles of Sacramento legislators and that of utility commissioners. "Regulators are not legislators," Lynch said. "They're more like judges. Their decisions have the power of a judge's decision." By inviting commissioners along on these lavish getaways, she said, "it's as if you're partying with the judge."

Mindy Spatt, a spokesperson for TURN, echoed Lynch's concerns. "These ostensibly educational trips are essentially lobbying junkets, where utilities ... wine and dine legislators," Spatt said. TURN raised the issue several years ago, she said, when Peevey joined a CFEE trip attended by a representative of Southern California Edison "just coincidentally at the exact same time that he was penning an alternate decision in Edison's rate case." She added: "In TURN's perspective, the commissioners need to be more in touch with what actual utility customers are experiencing, rather than in touch with the top restaurants in Brazil."

While Peevey is only one of a host of officials who attend CFEE trips, he has more than just a casual tie to the nonprofit. From 1973 to 1983, he served as president of the California Coalition for Environment and Economic Balance (CCEEB), an organization CFEE grew out of and whose membership shares some overlap with CFEE.

Based in San Francisco, CCEEB was founded by Edmund G. "Pat" Brown (Gov. Jerry Brown's father) in 1973. CCEEB backed a late-1970s proposal to construct a series of nuclear power plants along the California coastline. More recently, the group honored BP with a 2009 award for environmental education — shortly before the company and lax federal regulators were responsible for the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

 

Comments

Great job Rebecca-now we know how it why there are no consequences to blowing up a neighborhood.

Posted by Guest on May. 24, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

The Sacramento Bee did an article on energy regulators/energy company junkets back in 2009 that is also worth a look.

Posted by Guest on May. 25, 2011 @ 11:56 am

Totally disgusted - Peevey has to be ousted, Governor Brown! Corruption cannot be tolerated. Peevey, politician wife, SCE, lavish trips, coddling utilities ... this is like a corrupt third world dictatorship...Peevey is a national embarassment.

Posted by Guest on May. 27, 2011 @ 11:22 am

1. Fire this worthless piece of garbage now, along with Richard Clark. They're either corrupt, or incompetent, or both. In any case, they need to go now.

2. Investigate both for corruption

Posted by Guest on May. 27, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

1. WIRELESS SMART METERS – 100 TIMES MORE RADIATION THAN CELL PHONES.
Video Interview: Nuclear Scientist, Daniel Hirsch, (5 minutes: 38 seconds).
http://stopsmartmeters.org/2011/04/20/daniel-hirsch-on-ccsts-fuzzy-math/

2. WIRELESS SMART METERS – CANCER, NERVOUS SYSTEM DAMAGE, ADVERSE REPRODUCTION AFFECTS.
Video Interview: Dr. Carpenter, New York Public Health Department, Dean of Public Health, (2 minutes: 23 seconds).
http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?p=3946

3. THE KAROLINSKA INSTITUTE IN STOCKHOLM (the University that gives the Nobel Prizes) ISSUES GLOBAL HEALTH WARNING AGAINST WIRELESS SMART METERS.
2-page Press Release:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/48148346/Karolinska-Institute-Press-Release

Posted by Guest on May. 28, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

your links about smart meters are a hoax. some nuts print a paper and you feel like smart meters are the end of the world.

get a life you mis-informed person.

they didn't issue a warning agaist smart meters in the report- they said 4 billion earthlings are affectd by radio waves- micro waves, etc. BFD. you probably dictated this on your cell phone.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 19, 2011 @ 7:40 am

No, actually the dangers of radio emissions are more and more being recognized as quite real. Europe is already beginning to restrict cell phone towers and emissions because of this.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 19, 2011 @ 10:06 am

Thanks for this, hope you will follow-up with a story on what power the CPUC has and how little recourse the public has. The control is almost absolute, but the oversight is close to zero.

This is why the toxic plume from Hinkley CA (Erin Brockovich) continues to grow and spread 20 years later. And, why utilities are seeking to evade responsibilities for Sierra wildfires caused by lack of power line maintenance. And, why on a Christmas morning in Rancho Cordova, a faulty gas connection critically burned and killed a family. Why underground vaults in San Francisco have been exploding for years, flinging manhole covers into the surrounding community. (The 'fix': put a spring on the cover because the explosions are sure to continue...) Why residents living around the Tesoro plant so often 'shelter in place'. Why funds meant to address flawed gas pipes were not used for that purpose. And why we have billions wasted on a flawed SmartMeter rollout that lacks complete R&D.

The CPUC licenses our nuclear power plants; not a reassuring thought!

Posted by Guest on May. 30, 2011 @ 11:27 am

I appreciate this in-depth work on exposing the extent of the CPUC
President's coziness with those he is expected to regulate. Hopefully
it will be widely read and will hasten Mr. Peevey's departure and
assist in the appointing of responsible new leadership.

PG&E's SmartMeter debacle is a perfect example of a misguided, large-
scale industry experiment that has escaped much-needed regulation.
The serious health effects of the meters' wireless technology has
already ruined lives, leaving sensitive individuals sick, homeless, unable to
work and without recourse. That's in addition to the billing and
privacy issues, fire risk and real dangers of SmartGrid security
violation.

Keep up the good work!

Posted by Guest on May. 31, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

I am shocked about this illuminating news about Michael Peevey!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 21, 2011 @ 8:27 pm

Resistance among Californian utilities to residential feed in tariffs reveals a protectionist attitude not even seen in Europe's energy industry these days…
http://bit.ly/q6XTDI

Posted by Guest on Jul. 28, 2011 @ 9:40 am