Gov. Hopefuls Reap Energy Funding

By Published On: May 7, 2010

If the number and dollar amount of donations can be taken as a guide, then more people in the energy industry prefer Jerry Brown as California’s next governor over Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner. Brown’s election campaign for the 2010 gubernatorial race received well over $100,000 in donations from companies and individuals involved in the energy industry, according to data from the California Secretary of State’s office. Brown is the California Democratic Party’s presumptive gubernatorial nominee for the November election and is widely expected to carry the party’s June primary by a large margin. Meanwhile, Poizner and Whitman, who are vying for the Republican nomination in June, have each raised less than $20,000 in donations from utility companies and industry insiders, according to the most recent data. Among the major donors to Brown’s campaign are a San Jose company called Sprig Electric, which designs and installs electrical systems. In March, it donated $50,000. Not only has Pacific Gas & Electric donated $30,000, but at least 10 individual employees of the utility have chipped in a combined $24,000 of their own money, led by a $10,000 donation by PG&E chair and chief executive officer Peter Darbee. Other large contributions so far include $15,900 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union local chapter 595, which encompasses Alameda, San Joaquin and Calaveras counties and $10,000 from GWF Power Systems, a Pittsburg-based designer and builder of alternative energy power plants in northern and central California. Independent Energy Producers Association gave $5,000, as has NRG Energy (with power plants in California), and photovoltaic manufacturer SunPower. A number of well-known individuals from throughout the energy industry also contributed to Brown’s campaign. Among them: Edison International executive vice president Robert Adler, $5,000; ex-California Energy Commission member John Geesman, $5,000; Southern California Edison chair/chief executive officer John Bryson, $2,500; and California Public Utilities Commission member Dian Grueneich, $1,000. Whitman, who currently leads Poizner in the polls for the Republican nomination, received a $5,000 donation to her election campaign from Sempra Energy in March and $5,000 each last year from officials with Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions, a nuclear energy company. Of the two donations, one came from R. Steve Creamer, who was the company’s chief executive officer until abruptly resigning in February; the other from current EnergySolutions chief operating officer Raul Deju. Poizner’s election campaign has received just one sizeable donation: a $2,500 contribution from Frederick Noble, president and chief executive officer of Wintec Energy, a Palm Springs-based provider of wind-powered electricity.

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