Gov. Jerry Brown appointed two of his top aides Wednesday to a state panel that has been roiled by allegations of lax oversight and cozy dealings with utilities.
Brown named adviser Clifford Rechtschaffen and deputy legislative affairs secretary Martha Guzman Aceves to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).
In a statement, Brown said the two would protect ratepayers and ensure "safe, reliable and climate-friendly energy in California."
Federal and state prosecutors earlier announced investigations into those allegations in 2015, but they have yet to announce any conclusions. One of the outgoing commission members, former consumer advocate Michael Florio, who is being replaced when his six-year term expires on Sunday, was involved in some of the questioned email exchanges with utility executives. He has defended his private communications with the utility officials.
Newly appointed commissioner Guzman Aceves, 39, previously worked on farmworker issues, among other matters. Rechtschaffen, 59, briefly served as head of the state Department of Conservation, which oversees oilfield drilling in California, the nation's No. 3 oil-producing state.
PG&E Cited $5.45M Over Natural Gas Inspections
Last week, the commission issued a $5.45 million citation against PG&E for using contractors who lacked required qualifications to conduct corrosion inspections on the company's natural gas system.
The CPUC says PG&E reported in September that more than 100 non-qualified contractors conducted hundreds of thousands of inspections between February and May 2014 and in November 2014.
PG&E spokesman Donald Cutler said in a statement that the company had changed its operator qualifications process even before it reported to the CPUC and expected to complete re-inspections by the end of the year.
The commission says PG&E has 30 days to pay or contest the citation.