Take the nine California entities that deal with energy — including public utility regulators, power grid operators and the state’s energy planning agency — and roll them into one streamlined Department of Energy helmed by a cabinet-level secretary. That’s what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed as one of 18 cost-cutting strategies meant to help close the state’s $42 billion deficit.
The plan revealed today would eliminate the California Energy Commission, which funds energy R&D and sets efficiency standards, among other things. The Energy Commission’s authority to approve sites for 50-megawatt-plus thermal power plants and set efficiency standards would transfer to the new CDOE. So too would the Public Utility Commission’s charge to site renewable energy projects and transmission infrastructure. While consolidation might streamline the permitting process over the long term, approval of Schwarzenegger’s proposal could mean upheaval in the state’s oversight structure — contributing to a backlog of clean energy projects.
The governor’s office said in an announcement today the following agencies would be affected: