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State Senators Confirm Michael Picker As Head Of Public Utilities Commission

Jeff  Chiu / AP

California Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Picker listens to speakers during a meeting of the five-member commission in San Francisco, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Jeff Chiu / AP

(AP) -- State senators have confirmed Gov. Jerry Brown's appointment of a former adviser to lead California's troubled utilities commission.

Senators said Tuesday that they are satisfied that Michael Picker is moving the Public Utilities Commission in the right direction after he replaced Michael Peevey as commission chairman.

Democratic senators praised Picker for improving transparency and accountability, refocusing the commission on public safety, and bringing other reforms.

Picker was an adviser to the Democratic governor on renewable energy. He also was a former board member of a California utility.

His appointment was approved on a 31-8 vote.

Peevey is being investigated for emails that show the possibility of back-channel dealings with Pacific Gas & Electric Co., California's largest power utility.

Senators also confirmed the appointment of commission member Liane Randolph, 26-12.