Proposals for the creation of a new Department of Energy with a cabinet-level secretary, have been unveiled by California’s Schwarzenegger administration.

The plans would consolidate the existing Energy Commission and shift the siting of power lines and natural gas facilities from the Public Utilities Commission to the new department. The new body would also absorb the Power Authority, the Electricity Oversight Board and a Water Resources unit that bought power for the state during the energy crisis. The chairman of the energy commission would be the new energy secretary with cabinet-level status. However, consumer groups and Democratic opposition have criticised the plans.