Chief Counsel's Office

Kourtney Vaccaro, Chief Counsel

The Chief Counsel's Office is the Commission's full-service legal office. Its attorneys advise the Commission in the myriad programs under the Commission's jurisdiction, from powerplant licensing and energy forecasting, to contract administration for energy efficiency and alternative and renewable energy programs. In addition, Commission attorneys represent the Commission in administrative proceedings before other state and federal agencies, and in judicial proceedings in state and federal court. The Chief Counsel's Office is organized into four units:

Kerry Willis, Assistant Chief Counsel - Siting Advocacy Unit

The Siting Advocacy Unit primarily represents the Executive Director and Siting Division staff in the powerplant licensing cases before the Commission. In these proceedings the attorneys and the staff they represent serve as independent parties that are separate from the Commission, which serves as the judge. The attorneys work closely with the project managers, supervisors and staff, providing legal advice regarding strategy, analysis, mitigation of significant impacts, and assist in the development of written and oral testimony. The attorneys also participate in jurisdictional reviews, compliance and enforcement matters, the development of environmental policies and planning, and other matters requiring CEQA evaluation and compliance. They represent Commission staff in formal conferences and hearings.

Allan Ward, Assistant Chief Counsel - Transaction Unit

The attorneys in the Transaction Unit work with the Energy Commission's program staff to solicit, select, and manage contracts, grants, and loans for the Commission's wide variety of programs. These programs include energy research and development, fuels and transportation, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and the general procurement of goods and services to meet the Commission's needs. This work involves providing support throughout the entire agreement process from reviewing solicitations, supporting staff through the review of proposals and selection of projects, reviewing final agreements, and addressing any legal issues that arise while managing agreements.

Rebecca Westmore, Assistant Chief Counsel - House Counsel Unit

The House Counsel Unit provides the Commission with all general legal services (such as personnel, conflicts of interest, and public records requests), coordinates with the Hearing and Policy Unit to advise the Commission during powerplant licensing and other adjudicative proceedings, provides legal support to the Commission's appliance and building energy efficiency programs, and manages the administrative and judicial litigation of the Commission.

Paul Kramer, Assistant Chief Counsel – Hearing and Policy Unit

In 2015, the formerly separate Energy Commission Hearing Office merged with the Chief Counsel’s office and became the Hearing and Policy Unit. The unit’s Hearing Advisers advise and assist Commissioners in the conduct of power plant licensing and amendment proceedings and other Committee-conducted proceedings. Hearing Advisers and other attorneys in the unit provide legal advice to Commissioners on a variety of other matters, including proposed regulations and support for policy lead commissioners and review of proposed legislation. The unit leads the development of the Commission’s electronic filing and electronic public commenting system.

Muoi-Lynn Tran, Staff Services Manager - Support Staff Unit

The Support Staff Unit provides all legal support services to the Chief Counsel's Office and to the Commission, including document preparation, administrative record compilation, filing and ensuring compliance with the Rules of Court. Additionally, the Support Staff Unit manages the Commission's Docket Office, which is the formal repository of all documents filed in any administrative proceeding before the Commission.

For more information contact:

Office of Chief Counsel
California Energy Commission
1516 Ninth Street, MS-14
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 654-3951

Energy Commission Docket Unit