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Troubled Public Utilities Commission names a new top lawyer

Veteran staff lawyer Arocles Aguilar is named new top legal counsel at scandal-plagued California PUC

The scandal-wracked California Public Utilities Commission has named a veteran staff lawyer as its new top legal counsel.

The appointment of Arocles Aguilar was announced by PUC President Michael Picker at a commission meeting Thursday in San Francisco. It is part of sweeping changes underway at the top of the 1,000-person agency that regulates electricity and natural gas services and other industries.

The commission has been embroiled in controversy that arose in the aftermath of a 2010 fatal natural gas pipeline explosion in the San Francisco bedroom community of San Bruno.

In recent months, the commission has acquired a new president, Michael Picker, as well as a new commissioner, safety director, acting executive director and now a general counsel.

"The CPUC is a valuable and important agency going through a challenging time," Aguilar, 58, said in a statement. "I believe I can make a difference and help strengthen the CPUC and re-build the public's trust...."

She is a graduate of the UC Berkeley law school and spent three decades at the PUC before retiring in 2012. She was called back in mid-2013 as a special advisory counsel.

Aguilar, who is replacing an interim general counsel, will lead the PUC's legal division, which represents the agency in proceedings dealing with rates, safety and other matters. She has a good reputation at the commission, consumer advocates said.

One consumer group, the Utility Reform Network, said it "looks forward to new leadership at the PUC" and hopes to see it "restore the commission's reputation and put it back on track."

Twitter: @MarcLifsher

 

 

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