Gov. Jerry Brown’s two latest nominees to the California Public Utilities Commission were confirmed by state lawmakers in the closing hours of the legislative session despite a campaign to stop one of the nominations.
The confirmations of Commissioners Clifford Rechtschaffen and Martha Guzman Aceves were announced Saturday by commission spokeswoman Terrie Prosper.
“I look forward to working to help achieve California’s ambitious climate and clean energy goals, and ensure that California consumers enjoy affordable, safe and reliable utility service,” Rechtschaffen said in the statement.
Both new commissioners were nominated for six-year terms late last year.
Guzman Aceves previously served as deputy legislative affairs secretary in the Governor’s Office. Rechtschaffen also worked as a senior adviser to Brown prior to his appointment and also served as an acting director of the California Department of Conservation.
Rechtschaffen’s nomination to the utilities commission was targeted by Consumer Watchdog, a nonprofit advocacy group. Consumer Watchdog claimed that Rechtschaffen arranged for two state oil regulators to be fired after they suggested penalties against an oil company. The group also said that Rechtschaffen approved reopening the Aliso Canyon gas field north of Los Angeles before the cause of a massive leak in 2015 could be determined.
“Rechtschaffen has a long history of doing oil and gas companies’ bidding at the expense of Californians,” the group said.
Prosper said the allegations were baseless. She also provided a letter written by James Wheaton of the Environmental Law Foundation, saying, “I do not think that consumers could have a better friend on the commission than Mr. Rechtschaffen.”
Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, whose district includes the San Bruno community that suffered a deadly gas pipeline explosion in 2010, supported the confirmations.
“I trust both appointees will make safety, transparency and rate fairness for consumers top priorities,” Hill said in a statement.
The California Public Utilities Commission is under criminal investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office for engaging in backchannel communications between utility regulators and executives.