With a recent history as a lawyer and energy consultant before California regulators, Dian Grueneich, the newest member of the California Public Utilities Commission, recused herself from all energy matters during her first business meeting Thursday. She is still in the process of determining on which specific cases she can cast votes. Steve Poizner, a second new member on the five-member panel, is still awaiting formal swearing into office by the governor.
The CPUC was forced to move its energy items to the end of its agenda and deal with them with the three continuing commissioners, led by President Michael Peevey, who Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has left in place.
In introducing his new colleague, Peevey emphasized that Grueneich and he shared a lot of common views and he hoped the tenor of future commission meetings would be different than the prior head-banging he faced from two dissident commissioners. Grueneich said that her “standard” for her own conduct at the CPUC was “not to do anything that would embarrass my two 11-year-old children.”
“Because I am in the process of determining the extent to which my prior law and consulting practice will cause me to recuse myself from certain items on the commission agenda, out of an abundance of caution, at today’s meeting, I will recuse myself from all energy items on the agenda,” said Grueneich, adding that she is the first commissioner who had previously practiced before the regulatory commission prior to being appointed by the governor to the six-year post.
With less than a week on the job, she said the position so far has been “at least as challenging, and even more so, than I had imagined.” She reiterated that she was selected for the regulator’s position overseeing not only energy, but telecommunications, water, public transportation and trucking industries, because of what she called her “stands on issues, such as energy efficiency, renewables, climate change and customer choice.”
She said one of the strengths she brings with her 27 years of working on energy regulatory issues is what she called the ability “to work with people from all different positions and interests,” ranging from small consumer groups to environmental groups “interested in the long-term stability and sustainability of California’s electricity industry.”
Noting she was proud to be a Democrat appointed by a Republican governor, Grueneich said she would be “a strong advocate for consumers — both small and large — and a considered and deliberate judge of the many issues that come before this commission.”
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