The executive director of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is leaving state government to become president of Woodside Natural Gas, an Australian company with one of four outstanding proposals to develop a liquefied natural gas (LNG) offshore terminal along the Southern California coast. The CPUC Thursday announced Steve Larson's departure and named his assistant, Paul Clanon, to the commission's top staff position May 1.

Australian petroleum engineer Jane Cutler had been heading Woodside's U.S. LNG efforts from Santa Monica, CA. Cutler has been promoted to a position in Australia. The company will be making a formal announcement of the changes later this month, although a spokesperson did not know what the former CPUC executive's starting date is.

CPUC officials lauded the three-year service of Larson, who was a career state administrator, and his replacement Clanon, the former energy division director for eight years at the CPUC before taking on the role of deputy executive director for administration and operations two years ago.

CPUC President Michael Peevey cited Clanon's more than 22 years of experience in welcoming him to the top administrative job, saying he "has extensive knowledge of the CPUC's practices and procedures, both internal management and public decision-making."

Clanon, 47, is a University of California economics graduate.

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