Top California regulator accused of secret dealings with utility expected to address claims

Government And Institutions Associated Press

California's chief utility regulator is expected to address alleged backroom dealings with the state's largest utility when he presides over his last voting meeting of the five-member commission Thursday.

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California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey is due to chair a commission meeting amid an ongoing scandal over secret emails exchanges that show a cozy relationship with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. executives.

It will be Peevey's last voting meeting before he retires at the end of the year after completing two six-year terms.

Peevey has been under fire in connection to a series of emails describing alleged secrete negotiations between him and others at the commission and executives with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. that the utility and other have released since July.

In the latest email exchange made public this week, PG&E Vice President Brian Cherry says in a January 14 email that California Public Utilities Commission member Mike Florio said he would write a favorable opinion for a proposed gas rate if PG&E did not like one written by another member of the commission.

It is the latest in a series of emails released by the utility and others, many of them also from January, that allegedly show PG&E executives privately negotiating with state utilities commission officials.

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Previous emails released by PG&E show company executives sought — and obtained — the administrative law judge they wanted in the gas rate hike case. Peevey, a former president of Southern California Edison Co., and Florio also were included in those email negotiations. Florio has recused himself from the rate case.

State regulators last month fined PG&E and required its shareholders to cover as much as $400 million of the planned gas rate increase because of the backroom negotiations between the utility and regulators over the administrative law judge.