Michael R. Peevey is an entrepreneur, executive leader, and longtime regulator of California’s energy industry. Peevey was born in New York City in 1938 and moved to San Francisco in 1944. He earned both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Labor Economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1959 and 1961, respectively. Peevey worked in the US Department of Labor before becoming research director of the California Federation of Labor in 1963. In 1973, Peevey co-founded and became executive director of the California Council on Environment and Economic Balance (CCEEB), a political advocacy organization chaired by former California Governor Pat Brown. Peevey later helped establish other institutions including the California Foundation for Environment and Economy (CFEE), CALSTART, the Pacific Forest and Watershed Lands Stewardship Council, and the California Clean Energy Fund. He joined the Southern California Edison utility company in 1984, and rose to become president of both Edison International and Southern California Edison before departing in 1993. In 1995, amid deregulation of California’s energy economy, Peevey co-founded New Energy Ventures (now NewEnergy, Inc.), which he sold to AES in 1999. In 2001, Peevey volunteered in California Governor Grey Davis’s office to mitigate the California energy crisis. In 2002, Governor Davis appointed Peevey as president of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Both California Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown reappointed Peevey as CPUC president before Peevey’s retirement in late 2014. Peevey is married to Carol J. Liu, who served several years in the California legislature. They have three children. In this oral history, Peevey discusses these events, as well as the following topics: his family background and upbringing; education at Berkeley; work in labor organizations; running for elected office; political advocacy on environmental issues; reflections on political and executive leadership; his career at Southern California Edison; market deregulation and entrepreneurship; the California energy crisis in the early 2000s; leadership of the California Public Utilities Commission; policies he championed to incentivize California’s green-energy economy.




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