Title: California Energy Commission Records
California Energy Commission
California State Archives
For permission to reproduce or publish, please contact the California State Archives. Permission for reproduction or publication
is given on behalf of the California State Archives as the owner of the physical items. The researcher assumes all responsibility
for possible infringement which may arise from reproduction or publication of materials from the California State Archives
[Identification of item], California Energy Commission Records, F3912, California State Archives.
With the development of nuclear power in the late 1950's, California was faced with a new problem, the regulation of a new
source of electrical power. The solution to the problem arrived in 1963 with the formation of the Committee on Nuclear Power
Policy. This committee was formed when Hugo Fisher, the administrator of the Resources Agency, an agency formed in 1961 when
Governor Pat Brown dissolved the Natural Resources Department (see
STATS. 1961, ch. 2037, p. 4247), decided the Resource Agency could not regulate nuclear energy without a joint effort between departments.
In 1964 this committee on Nuclear Power Policy Formulation became an ad hoc committee to review proposals for the Pacific
Gas and Electric Company's sites for nuclear power plants. Later that year, the ad hoc committee became a standing committee
and by 1965 they released a policy statement, Resources Agency Policy on Power PLants in California that they used as a guide
for their activities.
In 1969 the Resources Agency revised the policy so that it would include thermal power plants. To assist in dealing with this
expanded policy, they also created another committee known as the State of California Powerplant Committee. The formation
of this committee coincided with Governor Ronald Reagan's designation of the Resource Agency as the state entity in charge
of coordinating the activities of all state agencies relative to thermal power plant siting, resolving conflicts within state
government that might arise, and entering into agreements with the power utility companies, reflecting the state's composite
position on all sites.
Adding to Governor Reagan's demands on the Resource Agency, the Assembly passed the Power Plant Siting Coordination Act in
STATS. 1970, ch. 1533, p. 3095). This Act stipulated that in concert with the California electrical utilities, the Resource Agency
was to prepare and maintain a long range plan, covering at least twenty years, for the establishment of powerplant sites to
meet the projections of California's population growth.
In 1972, the Powerplant Siting Coordination Act was supplemented with the passage of Proposition 20 which created seven coastal
commissions empowered to suggest environmental controls on development along the coast (see
STATS. 1972, ch 1, p. A-181).
The flurry of action dealing with energy resources peaked in 1973 with the introduction of S.B. 283, a bill that would have
established a state Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission. This bill was vetoed by Governor Reagan because
he felt the Commission would duplicate many functions performed by other state agencies. The rejection of S.B. 283 was followed
by the passage of A.B. 1575 in the House. The bill, almost identical to S.B. 283, was amended in the Senate and passed by
the Legislature on May 21, 1974.
On May 24, 1974, Governor Reagan signed into law, the Warren-Alquist State Energy Resources and Conservation Act (formerly
A.B. 1575) which established the Energy Resources and Conservation Commission (see
STATS. 1974, ch. 2761, p. 500). The Energy Commission's basic responsibilities included assisting in conservation of known energy
sources, developing alternate energy sources, ensuring that enough electrical energy remains available to protect public health
and safety, promoting the general welfare and enhancing the environmental quality, and consolidating the state's
responsibility for energy resources. The Commission accomplishes these tasks by assessing energy use trends in California,
researching and developing new energy sources, and regulating construction of energy producing sites.
The Energy Commission was comprised of Five members who were appointed by the Governor for five years in staggered terms (see
STATS. 1974, ch. 276, p. 504). The Warren-Alquist Act mandates that one commissioner posses a background in the field of engineering
on physical science and has a knowledge of energy supply or conversion systems; one member is an attorney and member of the
State Bar of California with administrative law experience; one commissioner has a background in environmental protection
or the study of ecosystems; one member is an economist with a background in natural resources management; and the final member
is from the public at large. The original commissioners were Richard Maulin, Ronald Doctor, Alan Pasternak, Richard Tuttle,
and Bob Moretti.
The Energy Commission was divided into four divisions in 1975: Energy Facility Siting, Conservation, Energy Assessments, and
Research and Development. Energy Facilities Siting, stemming from the earlier ad hoc committee, weighs the technological,
social, and environmental advantages and disadvantages of such facilities. This process helps provide appropriate electrical
generating facilities for the state of California. The Conservation Division whose roots lie in the old Natural Resources
Department, establishes regulations to slow the growth rate of energy use in California by carrying out studies, technical
assessments, research projects, and data collection. The Energy Assessments Division, stemming from A.B 1247, forecasts California's
electric energy requirements, predicting the state's electrical power needs for the coming five, ten, or twenty years. The
Research and Development Division, also grounded in A.B. 1247, researches and develops alternate forms of producing energy.
These areas include solar, and geothermal.