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Michael Peevey preempts ouster, will quit Public Utilities Commission

Michael Peevey preempts ouster, will quit Public Utilities Commission
California Public Utility Commission President Michael Peevey in 2004. (For The Times)

Michael Peevey, the controversial and embattled president of the California Public Utilities Commission, announced Thursday that he would not seek reappointment as head of the powerful regulatory body.

Peevey's current, six-year term expires Dec. 31.

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The announcement came amid a growing scandal over criticism that Peevey and other PUC officials have had improperly close relationships with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and other corporations that they regulate.

"I will not seek reappointment to the CPUC when my term expires at the end of the year," Peevey said in a statement released by the PUC. "Twelve years as president is enough. The governor, of course, will make a decision as to my successor in due time."

The news that Peevey will leave the commission came as critics held a news conference on the steps of PUC headquarters in San Francisco calling for Peevey's resignation or his impeachment if he were to be reappointed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Peevey, 76, a former president of electric utility Southern California Edison Co., has served as president longer than any other person.

For months he has been under fire over the fatal explosion in 2010 of a natural gas pipeline in the San Francisco Bay Area city of San Bruno that has been blamed in part on PUC negligence. He's also been accused by San Bruno officials and others, of having a "too cozy" relationship with PG&E as evidenced by recently-revealed emails between Peevey and company executives.

"I think it's clear that all the emails that have been coming out recently show a pattern of corruption that can't be defended," said Mark Toney, executive director of The Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco consumer group that advocates for ratepayers. Peevey, he said, should resign now and be immediately replaced by the governor.

Peevey, also has his defenders. Former Commissioner Mark Ferron, who resigned for health reasons in January, said the outgoing president "has done a fantastic job for the state" and is "a guy who wants to get things done."

Twitter: @MarcLifsher

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