With the announcement late Wednesday that Oregon's chief regulator was stepping down early, several western states are left with new regulatory slots to fill in the new year, including California and Arizona. In most cases, the state regulatory panels will enter 2011 with vacant seats.

Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) Chairman Ray Baum said he will be leaving the commission Jan. 16 to work for U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) in Washington, DC. Baum was first appointed to the three-member Oregon PUC in August 2003 and was reappointed to another four-year term in September 2007. He was named chairman of the commission by Governor Kulongoski effective March 1. His current four-year term expires in August. There was no indication in the Oregon PUC announcement on when a third commissioner would be appointed.

In California two of the five members of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will leave following the expiration of their six-year terms at the start of the new year. The outgoing CPUC members are Dian Grueneich and John Bohn, both appointees of outgoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown has not yet indicated who might replace the outgoing regulators. So far, CPUC President Michael Peevey, a Democrat and long-standing appointee of the Republican Schwarzenegger, appears to be on track to continue leading the state panel as he has since 2003.

In Arizona the elected five-member regulatory commission will swear in a reelected and a new member on Monday, and later that day the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) will select its new chairperson. After being term-limited out, current ACC Chair Kristin Mayes did not run for reelection.

"Commissioner Gary Pierce and Commissioner-elect Brenda Burns will take their oaths of office in the ACC's main hearing room, and immediately following the ceremony, all five commissioners will gather in the their conference room to select a new chairperson," an ACC spokesperson said. A source close to the regulatory panel told NGI earlier in December that Pierce likely would be named the new head of the commission.

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