Old Pro New TURN Director

By Published On: December 14, 2003

The Utility Reform Network promoted from the ranks this time to replace its executive director. Bob Finkelstein, longtime energy attorney for the consumer group, has now taken on the mantle of organization head. “I hope I?ve developed a reputation of being a reasonable person who may take hard-line positions?but in a fair and appropriate way,” Finkelstein said. He invoked his recent involvement in the relatively amicable Pacific Gas & Electric general rate case settlement pending at the California Public Utilities Commission. Finkelstein replaces Nettie Hoge, who moved back to the State Insurance Commission. “I don?t have delusions about replacing Nettie on a lot of levels,” he said. Finkelstein added he wanted to work more on coordination and outreach?getting issues out to the public faster. “So much has been happening through courts and commissions. I don?t know if that?s the best way to achieve public policy. Courts should be the last resort.” Finkelstein said that the legislature is going to be the next venue on which the organization will focus. Finkelstein is troubled by the sudden acceptance of direct access as the new form of deregulation at the Capitol. Legislators? “glib solution” to consumer problems is to impose a core-noncore allocation so retail customers?the ones TURN represents?are supposedly protected from the vagaries of direct access, he said. “But we?ve been around long enough to understand, and that?s not our experience,” he added. Finkelstein fears that with a core-noncore approach to direct access, small ratepayers will be left paying unfair costs of the system. The new executive director said he will no longer take an active caseload.

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