By MPCO Staff
The California Energy Commission (CEC) is seeking attorneys interested in helping shape California’s
transition to clean energy. Several positions are currently open.
The CEC, located in Sacramento, is the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency. It plays a critical role in creating the energy system of the future - one that is clean and modern and ensures the fifth-largest economy in the world continues to thrive.
The Chief Counsel's Office (CCO) is a full-service legal office advising the CEC on various issues that affect the organization. The attorneys also represent the Energy Commission in administrative and judicial proceedings.
The CEC’s Chief Counsel is Linda Barrera. She has been with the Commission in various positions since 2015 and has been the chief counsel since 2021.
Her team consists of 35 attorneys who draft legislative proposals, help design new programs to ensure energy reliability, and support the administration of programs to invest billions of dollars in accelerating clean energy innovation.
Q: What is CCO’s main focus related to CA’s clean energy goals?
Linda Barrera: The CEC’s mission is to lead the state to a 100 percent clean energy future for all. To support this mission, CCO provides legal advice on complex energy, environmental, and contracting law areas to our clients – the CEC’s staff, directors, and commissioners.
Q: Why is the CCO critical to the state’s clean energy future?
Linda Barrera: We have all witnessed the impacts of climate change on the state – more frequent and severe heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and other disasters. Our work directly supports the CEC’s efforts to counter the punishing effects of climate change.
We also support California’s commitment to leave no one behind as it pursues its clean energy goals. Energy equity and community empowerment are at the core of the laws and policies we are pursuing to combat and adapt to the effects of climate change.
Q: What has CCO recently accomplished, and what programs will be the focus moving forward?
Linda Barrera: CCO attorneys advise the CEC on the many programs under its jurisdiction, from powerplant licensing and energy forecasting to the administration of the many contract, grant, and loan programs covering energy efficiency, transportation, renewable energy, and other energy technology innovation.
During my tenure, CCO attorneys have played an important role in helping the CEC implement new and existing programs, including advancing the most ambitious building energy efficiency code in the nation; designing financial incentives for new, low-income residential buildings using near-zero-emission technologies; launching a strategic reliability reserve to compensate eligible customers for incremental load reduction during grid emergencies; developing the terms and conditions necessary to deploy electric vehicles charging infrastructure more rapidly; and brokering a significant agreement to construct a long duration energy storage project – considered one of the largest grants the state has ever awarded to benefit a tribal government.
Moving forward, the CCO will continue to expand and innovate to help the CEC implement myriad new programs, including a new opt-in permitting program to support the rapid deployment of clean energy projects and related transmission lines. CCO attorneys will also play a critical support role in the design and administration of new clean energy programs that will invest billions of dollars on, among other things, equitable building decarbonization, long-duration energy storage, hydrogen development, and carbon removal innovation.
Q: Why work at the CEC’s Chief Counsel’s Office?
Linda Barrera: From my perspective, the CEC is one of the best places to practice energy and climate law in California. We offer attorneys significant opportunities to grow and implement innovative legal strategies to design and defend the solutions needed to build a better future for California. And we do that with a strong commitment to collaboration, cohesiveness, and teamwork to help the CEC achieve its mission efficiently and effectively.
Q. Any final thoughts?
Linda Barrera: The CCO offers unique opportunities for attorneys to develop expertise in energy and climate law while serving the people of the State of California. Before I started at the CEC, I didn’t know it would be possible to wake up every day knowing that I would be part of a team making a huge difference in the transition to a clean energy future. But that’s what I feel every day I come to work. If these topics and opportunities spark your interest, I encourage you to apply for a job with the CCO.
For information on how to apply for a position with the CCO, visit the CEC’s Career Web Page. The CEC offers a hybrid workplace model that is designed to support a distributed workforce of both office-based and remote-centric workers.