Berkeley-for-Berkeley swap on energy panel?

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today nominated two people, one of whom is from the East Bay, to the California Energy Commission.

Robert WeisenmillerRobert Weisenmiller, 61, of Berkeley, has been principal and co-founder of the energy consulting company MRW and Associates since 1986; earlier he was co-founder and executive vice-president of Independent Power Corporation from 1982 to 1986. Weisenmiller was this commission’s policy and program evaluation director from 1980 to 1982, special projects officer from 1978 to 1980 and assistant to the commissioner from 1977 to 1978.

And Anthony Eggert, 37, of Davis, has served as science and technology policy advisor to the chair of the California Air Resources Board since 2007; earlier he was an advisor on energy and climate policy to the Office of Federal Governmental Relations for the University of California, Office of the President in 2007 and associate research director for the University of California, Davis Institute of Transportation Studies from 2002 to 2006. Eggert worked for the Ford Motor Company as manager of the California Fuel Cell Partnership from 2001 to 2002 and project engineer of Vehicle Environmental Engineering from 1996 to 1999.

Both men are registered decline-to-state; if confirmed by the state Senate, they’ll earn an annual salary of $128,109.

“The Energy Commission plays a vital role in helping meet the aggressive environmental goals my Administration is committed to achieving, through streamlining the permitting of renewable energy projects to help break ground quicker and create jobs while maximizing the billions of dollars in federal treasury grant funds for renewable energy projects,” said Schwarzenegger in his news release. “Both Anthony and Robert are the best, most qualified individuals to serve this purpose on the commission. They have the necessary experience and know-how to push our energy policies forward and I am confident that their service will help California take another step on the path toward meeting our goal of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020.”

That is, of course, assuming this goal stays in place. More on that after the jump…

Republican gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner both favor suspending AB 32, California’s landmark greenhouse-gas emissions law, at least until the economy picks up and jobs rebound. I’d bet Weisenmiller and Eggert don’t agree.

Schwarzenegger thanked Commissioner Art Rosenfeld, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist from the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, who has completed a decade-long stint on the commission.

“Art’s legendary contributions to the fields of particle physics and energy efficiency have helped keep California at the forefront of scientific innovation and we are lucky to have had someone so talented and honorable serve on the commission for the last decade,” the ogovernor said. “As an energy commissioner, he has brought unparalleled expertise to the commission while working with policymakers at all levels of government to develop a more coherent policy on efficiency and guarantee a more reliable electricity future for California.”

The California Energy Commission is the state’s main energy policy and planning agency, responsible for forecasting future energy needs and keeping historical energy data; licensing thermal power plants 50 megawatts or larger; promoting energy efficiency by setting the state’s appliance and building efficiency standards and working with local government to enforce them; supporting public interest energy research that advances energy science and technology; supporting renewable energy by providing market support to existing, new, and emerging renewable technologies, including incentives for small wind and fuel cell electricity systems and for solar systems in new home construction; implementing the state’s Alternative and Renewable Fuel and Vehicle Technology Program; and planning for and directing state response to energy emergencies.

Schwarzenegger hopes energy policy will be a grace note of his fast-eroding gubernatorial legacy.

His release notes that October he signed a memorandum of understanding with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to speed up the permitting process for long-term renewable energy projects in California, and appointed a special advisor to oversee that process; California also is seeking 30 percent federal tax credits for these projects under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Of almost 240 proposed projects, 48 have indicated they will apply for Recovery Act money and will break ground by the end of 2010.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.