Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the appointment of Rachelle Chong to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC).
"Rachelle's more than two decades of experience in telecommunications law in conjunction with her exceptional understanding of the regulatory environment will be a tremendous asset to the Public Utilities Commission," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "She brings a unique perspective to this important regulatory body and will work to protect consumers while keeping California's economy growing and ensuring our state continues to lead the world in technology development and innovation."
Chong has more than 21 years of experience in telecommunications law and policy, including three years as a commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 1994 to 1997. While a member of the FCC, she participated in implementing the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the first PCS wireless auctions, the finalization of digital television rules and the provision of new wireless and satellite services. Most recently, Chong has owned and operated her own business as a mediator, arbitrator and expert witness. In this capacity, she served as an arbitrator for the International Chamber of Commerce in a telecom dispute. During this same time, Chong has also been general counsel and vice president of government affairs for BroadBand Office, Inc. and president of Carina Jewelry, Inc. Prior to this, she was a partner in the Telecommunications and Internet Practice of the Coudert Brothers Law Firm. From 1987 to 1994 she served first as an associate attorney, and later as a partner, in the Public Utilities Practice Group of the law firm of Graham and James, specializing in matters before the Public Utilities Commission. Chong's professional experience also includes three years as an associate attorney with the law firm of Kadison, Pfaelzer, Woodard, Quinn and Rossi handling mass media, wireless and energy cases.
Chong also currently serves on the Lightbridge, Inc. board of directors and she previously served on the board of Corsair Communications. In addition, she is a trustee of the Association of Public Television Stations, member and former chair of the Federal Communications Bar Association in Northern California, guest lecturer at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and, from 1988 to 1990, served on the State Bar of California's Legal Services Trust Fund Commission.
"I am honored Governor Schwarzenegger has asked me to bring the knowledge and understanding of telecommunications policy I gained as a member of the Federal Communications Commission back to serve in my home state of California," said Chong. "I look forward to working with my fellow commissioners to continue to build upon their record of moving technology forward to bring down prices and create more jobs in California's high-tech industries."
Chong, 46, of San Francisco, earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Berkeley. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $114,191. Chong is a Republican.
Chong is expected to assume this position today, January 11, 2006.
The PUC is responsible for the regulation of investor-owned utilities, including gas, electricity, telephone, water, railroads and certain passenger and household goods carriers, to ensure the delivery of stable, safe and economic services. The specific activities of the PUC include enforcement of safety regulations, regulation of rates for services and promotion of energy and resource conservation. The PUC has an annual budget of approximately $1.2 billion and more than 830 employees.