Energy Politicians’ Re-election, Retirement Count

By Published On: October 29, 2010

Lawmakers involved in state energy legislation and policy are up for re-election--including the chairs of the energy committees. They are expected to hold onto their seats. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Senate Energy Utilities & Commerce Committee chair, is predicted to win a second term. His district is largely Democratic. In early September, Pacific Gas & Electric contributed $35,000 to his campaign coffers. However, the check arrived just after the utility’s gas pipeline exploded in San Bruno. Padilla returned PG&E’s check the day after receiving it. Last week, Padilla and other lawmakers probed state agency and utility staff and ratepayer advocates on ways to strengthen safety protocols and rules governing utility natural gas pipelines. Other political contributions Padilla received include $15,000 from PG&E earlier in the year, $15,000 from Sempra, $7,500 from NRG, and $5,000 from the California Solar Energy Association, according to the Secretary of State. Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Utilities and Commerce Committee, is also predicted to be reelected. Two out of three voters in his district are Democrats and he faces no serious opposition. Bradford also received campaign contributions from utilities and other energy producers. PG&E contributed $3,900, Southern California Edison $3,500, with another $1,400 from Edison International, Calpine $1,750, and Iberdrola $1,000. Whether Padilla and Bradford remain chairs of their current committees largely depends on whether Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) remains Senate President pro Tem. Also up for reelection is Assemblymember Dan Logue (R-Chico). His claim to fame is sponsoring Proposition 23. He also authored unsuccessful legislation in the last session that attempted to tie implementation of the state’s climate protection law, AB 32, with a large drop in the unemployment rate. His district, with a 20 percent unemployment rate, is predominantly Republican and he is expected to sail to victory. Logue received no contributions from utilities but received money from oil companies, including $3,000 from Valero Energy and $1,500 from Tesoro Corp. Assemblymember Wes Chesbro (D-North Coast), chair of the Natural Resources Committee, also appears not to be seriously threatened. Chesbro received political contributions of $2,500 from Calpine, $1,000 from Sempra, $1,000 from NextEra, and $1,000 from the Solar Alliance, the Secretary of State shows. The term of Senator Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica), author of the state climate protection law and a measure to curb vehicle emissions, runs to the end of 2012. Senator Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga), who has been a vocal critic of the California Air Resources Board, is the new head of the state Republican caucus. His term also runs to the end of 2012. Senator Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine), who pushed legislation to undo the moratorium on new nuclear plants in the state, is termed out. He’s pushed to build a new nuclear power plant in the Fresno area. His bid for the U.S. Senate was unsuccessful, having been beaten in the primary by Carly Fiorina, who is running against Democratic U.S. Senate incumbent Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Also termed out is state Senator Dean Florez (D-Shafter). As the chair of the Select Committee on the Smart Grid, Florez was the mover and shaker behind investigating Pacific Gas & Electric’s digital meters.

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