Should energy consumers pay extra taxes to fund government-mandated and subsidized renewable energy technologies? "Absolutely yes," says John Bryson, President Obama's nominee for Commerce Secretary. He made the remark at a meeting of the Commonwealth Club of California in 2009 and went on to extol the virtues of hidden rates in California, a state encumbered with some of the nation's highest electricity and unemployment rates.
Bryson, retired CEO of the electric utility Southern California Edison (SCE) and its parent company Edison International, excused the practice, saying, "That's been a part of the regulatory environment for the investor-owned utilities for as long as I've been close to it."
He has been close to it for more than three decades, but his resume shows that the current regulatory environment is largely his legacy rather than his inheritance. His bureaucratic career began in 1976 when then-Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to California's State Water Resources Control Board and as chair of the state Public Utilities Commission three years later. David Bier of the Competitive Enterprise Institute describes the outcome of his public service.
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Photo of John Bryson (left) with Arnold Schwarzenegger: AP Images