Former Commissioner, California Energy Commission

Bob Weisenmiller

Former Commissioner, California Energy Commission

Bob Weisenmiller is one of the world’s leading voices on energy. For more than nine years, he served at the California Energy Commission under Republican and Democratic administrations. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger first appointed him as a commissioner in 2010. Then, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed him as Chair of the Energy Commission in 2011 to guide energy planning and policy in the Golden State.

Bob was instrumental in shaping California’s pioneering energy policies. In his leadership role, he aimed to address exponential electricity growth, costs, and environmental impacts through greenhouse gas-reducing solutions, advancing cost-effective energy efficiency standards for buildings and appliances, encouraging innovative clean energy projects, and implementing the state’s electricity demand forecast. That forecast is the foundation of the state’s highly analytical and comprehensive electric system planning.

Previously, Bob cofounded and managed MRW & Associates, using his expertise to assist businesses, financial institutions, and public regulatory agencies in strategic planning, policy development, energy market analysis and regulation, power pricing for qualifying facility projects, marginal cost analysis, rate design, and implication of utility mergers.

He provided expert witness testimony to more than 100 state and federal public regulatory agency and court proceedings. He has authored numerous publications on electricity and natural gas markets.

Bob has a Ph.D. in chemistry and a master of science in energy and resources from the University of California, Berkeley. He earned a bachelor of science in chemistry from Providence College.

California’s Innovative Climate/Energy Policies

Climate change set the  context for California’s energy policy.  Recent IPCC reports have warned that it is critical to address climate change now to have any hope of limiting temperature rises to less than 1.5 degrees C.  The California Fourth Climate Change Assessment spells out some of the California specific implications of our changing climate.  Indeed, these impacts are demonstrated by the recent explosive growth in wildfires in California.  Next I will examine the major sources of California’s emissions of GHGs.  California has established both goals for reductions in GHG emissions and the actions to achieve  near-term reductions.  It is very important every five years to examine  the effectiveness of these  policies and programs, and then refine and extend them.  Since the majority of California’s GHG emissions are from transportation, that sector is the top priority.   The power sector  has achieved significant reductions, but additional energy efficiency and renewables  (primarily wind and solar) will be critical to  further reduce emissions. Storage technology starting with lithium-ion batteries  should allow California to shift towards  100% renewables,  while maintaining a reliable grid.  But long-term energy storage will be necessary to achieve 100%.    Finally, California’s  cap and trade policy should be able limit industrial and commercial emissions.  I will conclude with both lessons learned and some of the outstanding issues.