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Railroad Appeals CPUC Wigwag Decision
June  5, 2003

On April 30, a California Public Utility Commission administrative law judge (ALJ) ruled in favor of the City of Richmond and prohibited the BNSF railroad from removing the historic wigwags from the West Richmond Avenue grade crossing in Point Richmond (see May 1, 2003, E-FORUM http://www.tombutt.com/forum/030501.htm).


On May 31, 2003, the BNSF filed an appeal of the ALJ’s wigwag decision to the Public Utility Commission. The appeal will be heard by the five PUC commissioners. The Governor appoints the five Commissioners, who must be confirmed by the Senate, for six year staggered terms.


Not only did the railroad appeal the decision; Commissioner Michael R. Peevey personally requested a review of the ALJ decision.


Following is what the CPUC website says about Commissioner Peevey:


Michael R. Peevey was appointed President of the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by Governor Gray Davis on December 31, 2002.  Mr. Peevey was originally appointed to the PUC as a Commissioner by Governor Davis on March 5, 2002. His term expires Dec. 31, 2008.


Mr. Peevey is dedicated to establishing the PUC as a leader among state regulatory agencies and making the PUC a strong and viable entity on behalf of the citizens and businesses of California.


As President of the PUC, Mr. Peevey will work to protect the public interest by promoting ratepayer and consumer needs, as well as healthy utilities providing quality services, and a viable economy in which businesses thrive.


Mr. Peevey is committed to maximizing energy efficiency and demand response opportunities and ensuring that California's environment is protected.  He is a strong supporter of renewable energy and renewable procurement requirements for utilities. 


Mr. Peevey has made it a priority to work closely with sister agencies, such as the California Department of Water Resources, the Independent System Operator, the California Energy Commission, and the California Power Authority -- agencies in which the PUC has overlapping or complementary responsibilities, and in which a closer coordination can maximize limited resources.


Prior to joining the Commission, Mr. Peevey was Chief Executive Officer of TruePricing Inc., a technology company focused on assisting companies and government entities to better control their energy costs. He also recently served on the Board of Directors of the Excelergy Corporation, an energy software company, and ElectroRent Corporation.


From 1995 until 2000, Mr. Peevey was President of NewEnergy Inc., then the nation's largest energy service provider.  He also was a Public Affairs Consultant to Winner & Associates, Los Angeles, from 1993 until 1995. Prior to that, Mr. Peevey was President of Edison International and Southern California Edison Company from August 1990, through March 1993, and a senior executive there beginning in 1984.  Mr. Peevey has served on the boards of several corporations and non-profit organizations.


Mr. Peevey holds both a Bachelor and Master of Arts degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.  He is married to Assembly member Carol J. Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge).  They have three children.

You may contact Mr. Peevey via email at: commissionerpeevey@cpuc.ca.gov


Both the BNSF appeal and the Peevey Request for Review emphasize safety. It is ironic that there has never been a train-vehicle accident at the Richmond Avenue Crossing, yet BNSF is obsessed with its safety. On the other hand, BNSF runs mile-long trains through Richmond at slow speeds completely blocking off Marina Bay from public safety vehicles for 30-45 minutes at a time.


Elsewhere in Richmond, residents have recently been killed at unguarded pedestrian crossings of railroad tracks, and the CPUC has been unresponsive to the City’s request to have the crossings upgraded.


Not to mention the train horn problem, to which the CPUC has also turned a deaf ear.