New Calif. governor names Energy Commission boss

Source: Anne C. Mulkern, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom yesterday named a solar power veteran and California Energy Commission member as new chairman of the commission.

Newsom tapped David Hochschild, 47, a Democrat from Berkeley, to lead the commission. Hochschild has been a commission member since 2013. Before that, he was vice president of external affairs at Solaria Corp., executive director at PV Now, and co-founder and director of policy at the Vote Solar Initiative.

Hochschild started Vote Solar with co-founder Adam Browning in 2002. Hochschild at the time was working for San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Hochschild suggested that he and Browning, who had met while attending Swarthmore College, team up to push solar power. California was in the middle of a power crisis with rolling blackouts because of electricity shortages (Greenwire, Sept. 24, 2013).

Their successes included raising the California-imposed cap on how many people could qualify for net metering, which is the credit people get for the excess energy their solar systems send to the grid. It was increased several times before the metering program was later revised at the urging of utilities. Their work spilled over to other states, which began adopting similar policies.

“A lot of that really flowed from California,” Hochschild has said. “Because California was kind of the early adopter, [other states] were kind of looking to see which way things went in California. Once they saw it put in place here and work, that itself spurred more adoption in the other states.”

Hochschild also was a commissioner on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission from 2007 to 2008. Hochschild was reappointed by the governor to the Energy Commission last month. The appointment is pending.

The commission chair job pays $158,572.

Newsom also named Janea Scott, 45, from Sacramento, as commission vice chairwoman. She’s been a commission member since 2013 and has focused in part on the transition to electric vehicles and EV charging access.

Scott also hails from federal government work. She was a deputy counselor for renewable energy and special assistant to the counselor at the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of the Secretary from 2009 to 2013. Before that, she held multiple positions at the Environmental Defense Fund, including senior attorney and staff attorney.

Scott was confirmed by the Senate to the Energy Commission in 2016, and the compensation is $153,689. Scott is a Democrat.