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California's CEC Adds Renewable Energy Expertise

In his State of the State address a few weeks ago, Gov. Jerry Brown indicated his intention to "make California again a leader" in, among other things, renewable energy and state-of-the-art efficiency.

Now he's filled two vacant seats at the California Energy Commission (CEC), and both have renewable energy expertise: David Hochschild, founder of Vote Solar, and Janea Ashanti Scott, deputy counselor for renewable energy at the U.S. Department of the Interior/Office of the Secretary.

Hochschild's addition in particular could indicate there will be clearer insight into solar energy's position in the California energy mix. He has worked extensively with the CPUC and CEC for the last 12 years on various renewable energy policies; from a policy/bureaucracy perspective, he served as commissioner for the San Francisco public utilities commission (a municipal utility) in 2007-2008.

"Renewable energy is a topic near and dear to the Governor as the state moves toward a 33-percent RPS by 2020," explained Adam Gottlieb, assistant executive director of the CEC's media and public communications office. "Counting on knowledgeable people in positions of power makes a difference."

The CEC has room for five commissioners, representing different areas of expertise: engineering/physical science, law, environmental protection, economics, and a public member. Current commissioners include: Robert B. Weisenmiller (chair, engineer/scientist); Karen Douglas (attorney), and Andrew McAllister (economist). The other two seats had been vacant; Carla Peterson (public member) was appointed to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) just a few weeks ago, while the other seat once occupied by Anthony Eggert (environmentalist) has been empty for a long time.

Given their backgrounds, it seems likely that Hochschild will be tabbed with the "environmental" expertise label, and Scott will be the named the "public" member, according to Gottlieb.

Hochschild and Scott won't start until the end of this month at the earliest. For a sense of where they may be put to work, this document lists some of the CEC committees and the CEC members assigned to oversee them -- note the vacated selections.

Once they're up to speed, they'll be busy. The next monthly CEC business meeting (Weds. 2/13) will tackle two dozen agenda items including funding alternative vehicles and transportation, siting of 50-MW and larger power plants (solar thermal), and low-interest loans for energy efficiency, according to Gottlieb. Part of the CEC job also will be traveling to power plant sites and communities where public workshops are held.

Lead image: Choice of solar energy , via Shutterstock

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