Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed a former international banker turned charity executive to the California Public Utilities Commission.
Mark Ferron, 52, of Mill Valley is the senior partner at Silicon Valley Social Ventures, a donor network that, according to its Web page, "leverages its financial, intellectual and human capital to make a meaningful, measurable impact in Silicon Valley and beyond."
From 2001 to 2009, Ferron was chief operating officer for the global markets division of Deutsche Bank in London and had responsibility for all trading in the fixed income, currency, commodity and equity markets. Prior to Deutsche Bank, he worked for Salomon Brothers and Bank of America.
"His background is finance and operations," Brown spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford said. "There was a feeling that this is something that the PUC would benefit from."
Ferron is Brown's third appointment to the PUC since taking office in January. The panel, which regulates private sector electric utilities, water companies, natural gas suppliers and other businesses, now is fully staffed with all five constitutionally designated members.
Ferron, who has served as an informal counselor to Brown, is not well known in the utility, energy or environmental community groups with considerable interests at the PUC.
"We don't know anything about him," said Bill Magavern, California director of the Sierra Club. "We've been calling for Jerry to appoint someone who is strong on energy efficiency and renewable energy and we hope this guy fills the bill."
The PUC needs leadership on clean energy, Magavern said.
Ferron's appointment comes at a difficult time for the PUC. The agency has come under fire for its alleged lax regulation of natural gas pipelines. The explosion of a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pipeline in San Bruno last September killed eight people and destroyed about 50 homes.
"Mr. Ferron will join the commission at a pivotal time. The commission has been under a great deal of criticism for being too cozy with the utility companies and too soft on PG&E," said Mark Toney, executive director of the Utility Reform Network, a consumer advocacy group. "It desperately needs to change direction if it is going to restore public faith in its effectiveness."
Ferron was unavailable for comment on his appointment.
-- Marc Lifsher