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Deal reached on California PUC leaders serving on related nonprofits

California Public Utility Commissioner Michael Peevey sits on the panel during a meeting in San Francisco in 2004.
(Randi Lynn Beach / For The Times)

SACRAMENTO — Lawmakers have reached a deal on a measure aimed at barring Public Utilities Commission leaders from simultaneously serving on nonprofits created by the commission.

The Assembly originally wanted the provision, one part of a larger budget-related bill, to take effect Jan. 1. However, the Senate wanted to wait until the following year — after PUC President Michael Peevey’s term expires. Gov. Jerry Brown also sought the delayed start date, according to legislative sources who requested anonymity to discuss negotiations.

Peevey serves as chair of two nonprofits created by the commission, a practice critics say allows him to steer agency-related money with less oversight.

Each house of the Legislature previously passed its own version of the bill. Now they’ve agreed to essentially split the difference, and the revised proposal would take effect June 1, 2014, affecting Peevey’s positions but giving nonprofits more time to prepare.

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Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the governor, commented only on the final compromise, saying it includes “a reasonable set of limits” and “a sufficient transition period.”

The bill is expected to receive a vote in the Assembly on Thursday. If it is approved and signed by the governor, the measure would allow the Legislature to remove PUC commissioners for simultaneously serving on the board of nonprofits created by the PUC.

Peevey has defended the nonprofit arrangements, saying the organizations fund worthy causes such as expanding Internet access and investing in clean-energy projects.

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Twitter: @chrismegerian

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