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Apr 20, 2004 - 01:50 PM

Government of PG&E, by Edison and for the Business Lobby

by Doug Heller
Politicians at various times have said that government should be run more like a business. Arnold seems to think it should be run by businesses. In that spirit, the gov today named Pacific Gas & Electric to the California Energy Commission and a private energy consulting firm to be his chief energy advisor.

Officially, of course, Arnold must actually name human beings to the posts.

So, the Energy Commission‚s environmental slot -- by law the Commission must have a member with expertise in environmental protection -- went to Jackalyne Pfannenstiel, a former executive at Pacific Gas & Electric who is said to maintain close ties with the company. You've got to have some serious sway to convince the governor (with his reputed eco-friendly attitude) to appoint a former utility executive to be the environmental advocate at the energy commission.

PG&E pays for sway: the company contributed $200,000 to Arnold's main campaign committee this year.

And, as ArnoldWatch predicted last week, the gov picked Joe Desmond, an energy industry executive, to be his chief energy advisor. Desmond runs a company, Infotility, that was formed in 2000 and profits off of the confusion and complexity of deregulated energy markets. It is no surprise that he has been an active voice in the effort to keep deregulation -- and the volatility that makes businesses need consultants like his firm -- alive. In recent years Desmond has worked on energy issues with the special interest lobbying force known as the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group. But why work as a special interest on the outside when the governor has prime spots for special interests on the inside?

Arnold isn't the first governor to hand the reins of government over to corporations. He follows the course set by Gray Davis, who put oversight and regulation of utilities in the hands of former Southern California Edison utility executive Michael Peevey.

Peevey, still in charge at the California Public Utilities Commission, rounds out the energy industry assumption of power in Arnold's government of PG&E, by Edison and for the Business Lobby.

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