Energy Agencies Do Well Under Proposed Budget

By Published On: January 16, 2005

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger?s tough talk about reducing services appears not to extend to energy agencies in his proposed 2005-06 budget revealed this week. The main agency for funding renewables and gathering data, the California Energy Commission, would garner a slight increase in staff. Money for general utility regulation at the California Public Utilities Commission would increase under the governor?s plan. ?This is a budget compelled by the necessity to bring our expenditures under control after they have been set on a course of increases outstripping the increases in our revenues,? stated Tom Campbell, director of finance. The proposed budget is relatively generous to the CEC but is still lower than provisions made for the 2004-05 fiscal year. The budget for 2005-06 is projected at $317 million, down from $379 million in the last fiscal year?but still more than in 2003-04. The governor would add nearly a dozen full-time CEC staff positions for research and development on both the gas and electricity sides. He would also add almost eight full-time positions to perform analysis. Those employees would also support the CPUC?s procurement process. However, that increase is far less than what CEC executive director Bob Therkelsen pursued last fall. Therkelsen had wanted 61 new positions for analysts. Notable changes include elimination of funding for fossil-fuels planning, previously pegged at $2.7 million, and an increase in Public Interest Energy Research funds of about $10 million. The CPUC would suffer a decrease in the proposed budget, from $1.244 billion last fiscal year to $1.217 billion this year. Money for utility regulation would be up slightly, from $348.2 million to $349.8 million. Changes include an increase for the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, from $21.8 million to $22.2 million. Another 14.5 new positions would be created this fiscal year at the commission. The Electricity Oversight Board?which is on the governor?s list to be decimated as part of agency reorganization?would get a slight increase in funding, from $3.7 million to $3.8 million. According to the governor?s January 6 proposal, several boards, including the Oversight Board, ?often create superfluous layers of bureaucracy.? His plan suggests ?transferring responsibility for administration to the chief executive, governor?s appointees and discretionary managers [to] better serve the people of California.? The Oversight Board was included in the new plan even though last year, the governor vetoed legislation by Senator Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach) that would have eliminated the agency.

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now