Michael Picker, California’s top utility regulator, said Thursday he plans to step down later this year, opening up a crucial leadership role in the state’s efforts to quell wildfires and combat climate change.
Picker, the president of the California Public Utilities Commission, made the announcement at a commission meeting in San Francisco. He said he could leave as soon as July but indicated it will probably be later, in order to give Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office sufficient time to fill his seat on the five-member body that regulates the state’s investor-owned utilities.
While “you can always think of reasons why you should stay and why you’re essential,” Picker told his colleagues, it makes “a great deal of sense” for him to depart after they had completed some of their most pressing wildfire-related decisions.
In an interview, Picker said he expects the commission will make some more decisions about wildfires in July, which is why he floated that month as a possible time to depart. But he reiterated his intent to stick around long enough for Newsom to pick a successor.
California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker to step down, by J.D. Morris, The San Francisco Chronicle, May 30, 2019.