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CPUC President Peevey Won't Seek Reappointment At End Of Term Amid Flap Over Inappropriate PG&E Emails

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey announced Thursday that he will not seek reappointment to a new term amid criticism over inappropriate email exchanges between CPUC and PG&E over regulatory proceedings.

Peevey said in a statement that he will not seek reappointment to the commission when his term ends at the end of this year.

"Twelve years as president is enough," Peevey said. "The governor, of course, will make a decision as to my successor in due time."

Peevey said he had initially planned to make the announcement at the CPUC's regularly scheduled meeting next Thursday, but moved it up to today.

The announcement came on the same day that state Sen. Jerry Hill proposed having the state Legislature remove Peevey from office over the allegations regarding PG&E.

"Californians should rejoice knowing that the PUC will now be able to turn over a new leaf and fulfill their mission of serving the public interest by protecting consumers and ensuring safe, reliable and affordable utility service," said Hill in a statement issued after the announcement. "I'm confident that the Governor will appoint a new PUC president and new commissioner who will provide the public with exceptional service and moral standards beyond reproach. "

CPUC President Peevey To Step Down At End Of Term Amid Flap Over Inappropriate PG&E Emails

The state Constitution allows the Legislature to remove a CPUC commissioner from office by a two-thirds vote in cases of corruption, incompetence or neglect of duty, according to Hill's office. Hill said there could now be criminal indictments.

Governor Brown declined to comment on Peevey's stepping down and his office would not say if the governor pressured him to leave office.

Allegations of corruption against Peevey and Commissioner Mike Florio arose after the release last month of emails between PG&E officials and Peevey, his then-chief of staff and Florio that allegedly show judge-shopping by the utility for an administrative law judge in a gas transmission and storage rate case.

San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane said Peevey has been incredibly arrogant in his response to the deadly 2010 PG&E pipeline blast in San Bruno. He alleges that the emails show that Peevey was more interested all along in getting campaign contributions than in protecting the public interest.

"We've asked for his removal for well over two years. We suspected as the NTSB noted in their investigation over three years ago that there was a too cozy a relationship between the utility and the regulators," said Ruane.

PG&E has said it believes the messages violate a CPUC rule prohibiting utilities from sending off-the-record messages, known as ex parte communications, to CPUC commissioners and staff and that federal prosecutors have notified PG&E that they are investigating the emails.

PG&E eventually fired vice president Brian Cherry and two other executives while Peevey's chief of staff Carol Brown resigned from her position but remains as a CPUC employee.

Hill and other local and state legislators are also calling on Florio to resign.

© Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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