The energy lawyer and perceived “moderate” among the California Public Utilities Commission’s five members, Dian Grueneich, was confirmed by the state Senate last Friday, leaving only the more recently nominated John Bohn needing to gain the lawmakers’ approval. Grueneich is a Democrat, Bohn is a Republican, and the California legislature is heavily Democrat-controlled in both houses.

Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Grueneich last January, along with a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who eventually declined the CPUC position because of too many conflicts-of-interest from past business involvement and investments in the telecommunications industry. Bohn, a former international banker/lawyer, is perceived by some consumer critics to have similar conflicts that may hurt him in the confirmation process, although he has taken his place on the five-member regulatory commission.

A business report over the weekend in the Los Angeles Times profiling another CPUC member, Susan Kennedy, quoted various consumer organizations as labeling Kennedy and CPUC President Michael Peevey as too pro-business in their approaches to issues; Grueneich, and the senior commission member, Geoffrey Brown, were categorized as “moderates.”

Both consumer groups and Republican leaders in the state legislature supported Grueneich’s appointment.

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