Southern California lawmakers are slated to head both the Senate and Assembly energy committees. Senator Alex Padilla replaces Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) as the chair of the Senate Energy Utilities & Communications Committee. Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes (D-Arleta) is expected to take the helm of the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee from termed out Assemblymember Lloyd Levine (D-Los Angeles), say knowledgeable capital sources. Both legislators are strong supporters of renewable energy. They also previously worked for the Los Angeles City Council. \u201cEnergy is one of the defining issues of our time,\u201d Padilla said December 2 announcing his appointment as Senate Energy, Utilities, & Communications Committee chair. \u201cI look forward to working with my colleagues to meet our energy needs through greater use of renewable energy sources and to address the many diverse issues that come before the committee.\u201d While serving as the Los Angeles City Council president, Padilla pushed the city to adopt a 20 percent renewable portfolio standard by 2017 under the former mayor James Hahn when there was internal resistance. He was council president from 2001-2004. This week, Padilla reintroduced a bill held last session, (formerly SB 1438) that aims to improve the efficiency and reliability of California\u2019s transmission via \u201csmart grid\u201d technology (Circuit, April 18, 2008). The new measure, SB 17 introduced December 1, requires the California Public Utilities and Energy Commissions to work with the grid operator to set ground rules for an efficient, cost-effective grid by July 2010 to increase system reliability and integrate more renewable energy. Under the bill, private and public utilities would be required to submit smart grid deployment plans by July 2011. Fuentes, said to be the new head of the Assembly Utilities & Commerce Committee, formerly served on the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. He was also Padilla\u2019s chief of staff when the Senator was Los Angeles City Council president. In May 2007, Fuentes took over the seat of Assemblymember Richard Alarcon, who left to join the Los Angeles city council. His district includes Arleta, Mission Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, Sun Valley, and Sylmar. Fuentes authored a bill last session that would have allowed renewable developers to get long-term, transparent payments for their supplies that interconnect into the grid to ease project financing. This feed-in tariff measure was never taken up by the Assembly energy panel. In contrast to changes in Sacramento, there was no turnover at the California Public Utilities Commission. The governor reappointed CPUC president Mike Peevey and member Rachelle Chong to their posts November 28. Most expected Peevey would serve another term as CPUC head, particularly given that his wife Carol Liu won a Senate seat November 4. Previously, she served in the Assembly representing the 44th district until she was termed out in 2006. The current terms of Chong and Peevey, who has been CPUC president since 2001, expire at the end of this year. Chong, who has served on the commission since 2006, was said to be exploring lucrative positions in the private sector. Given the sour economy, commission salaries are unlikely to rise. Both reappointments are subject to Senate confirmation. California Energy Commission chair Jackie Pfannenstiel, whose term is up at the beginning of next year, will not be seeking a reappointment. \u201cMy appointment expires on January 6, 2009, and I will vacate the position on that date,\u201d she stated in a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger last month. Who will be appointed to head the Energy Commission is not known, but some predict commissioner Karen Douglas may become the new chair. Consumer advocate The Utility Reform Network objected to the CPUC reappointments. \u201cThe previous terms of commissioners Peevey and Chong have been marked by higher utility bills, reckless deregulation similar to that seen in the banking industry and excessive taxpayer costs for overpriced utility projects such as \u2018smart meter,\u2019\u201d stated Mark Toney, TURN executive director. However, a coalition of businesses and public agencies that support the reactivation of customer choice of electricity providers, welcomed the CPUC reappointments. \u201cWith the growing challenges of rising power prices, renewable portfolio standards and carbon dioxide reduction taking center stage in California it is critical to have forward thinking leaders who understand competition and organized power markets,\u201d stated Bill Dombrowski, President and CEO of California Retailers Association. CRA is a member of the California Alliance for Competitive Energy Solutions. Another member of this year-old organization is Sempra Energy Solutions.