Leadership Changes at the California Public Utilities Commission


By: Madison Orcutt

Recently, there have been a number of appointments and reappointments at the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”). On August 31, 2020, the Commissioners unanimously voted to terminate the employment of the Commission’s Executive Director, Alice Stebbins. [26:1 CRLR 174–176] On January 5, 2021, the Commission appointed Rachel Peterson as its Executive Director. Ms. Peterson had previously served at the CPUC in a variety of capacities, including as the CPUC’s Acting Executive Director after the termination of Ms. Stebbins. The Commission’s Strategic Directives, Governance Process Policies, and Commission-Staff Linkage Policies document outlines the Executive Director’s duties, which include “organiz[ing], coordinat[ing], supervis[ing], and direct[ing] the operations and affairs of the [C]omission . . . .”

Additionally, on December 9, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Liane Randolph as the new Chair of the California Air Resources Board. Ms. Randolph had previously served as a CPUC Commissioner since 2015. Governor Newsom then appointed Darcie Houck on February 9, 2021 to fill the seat vacated by former Commissioner Randolph. Commissioner Houck previously served as Chief Counsel for the California Energy Commission and as a CPUC Administrative Law Judge. Commissioner Houck earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law. Compensation for this position is $159,068 and the position requires Senate confirmation.

On December 30, 2020, Governor Newsom reappointed Marybel Batjer as President of the CPUC. President Batjer has served in that position since 2019. Prior to her role at the CPUC, President Batjer served as Secretary of the Government Operations Agency from 2013 to 2019. The President’s compensation is $219,000 and this position also requires Senate confirmation.

Per Public Utilities Code section 308(a), the five-member Commission appoints the Executive Director and the Executive Director holds office during the Commissioners’ pleasure. Commissioners are appointed to the CPUC for six-year terms that require Senate confirmation.


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