CA Governor Unhappy with CPUC President, May Replace Her

California Gov. Gray Davis is unhappy with his appointed president of the state regulatory commission, and may name a new head of the five-member panel, according to a report in last Wednesday's Los Angeles Times.

Davis appointed Loretta Lynch, a lawyer and close political cohort at the time, to a six-year term at the California Public Utilities Commission last year, and subsequently used a new gubernatorial power later to name her head of the commission. He can't remove her from the CPUC, but he can displace her as president.

Lynch and the governor have parted company on at least two high-profile issues -- first last spring on the issue of granting electric utility rate increases when the CPUC passed the largest single increase (3 cents/kw) in state history over the opposition of Davis, and at the end of the recently completed state legislative session over a bill that Davis opposed.

"I think she is a fine person," Davis is quoted in the Times. "I wouldn't ask her to quit. I would just replace her as president if I decide to do that. But I've not asked her to be replaced. I don't preclude that in the future.

"There is no question that there have been moments when I have not been too pleased with the commission."

Most recently, Davis has been feuding with a fellow Democrat who heads the state senate as president pro-tem, John Burton, over the rescue plan for Southern California Edison Co. Along with blocking any Edison bill from passing in the final days of the legislative session concluded last Friday, Burton also sponsored and got through the legislature his own plan for the state sale of $13 billion in public revenue bonds to pay back the state treasury for power purchases made this year and next.

Davis has adamantly opposed the bill and vows to veto it (SB 18XX). Lynch publicly endorsed the bill, rather than an alternate proposal advocated by the state treasurer and governor. The alternate will come before the CPUC Thursday.

In the meantime, Burton has publicly praised Lynch as a champion for the small consumers.

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