Commerce Pick Bryson Is in Key Role


A native New Yorker who spent most of his career in California after being educated at Stanford and Yale Law School, Bryson likely will become a major player of Obama's plans to double U.S. exports by the end of 2014, to more than $3 trillion, as proclaimed in the Economic Report of the President to Congress.

But Bryson's background also lends itself to the president's goals for lean and renewable energy. After serving California-based Edison International from 1984 until --- including 17 years as CEO -- Bryson retired in 2008. Edison operates the San Onofre nuclear plant near San Diego. As chairman of Oakland-based BrightSource, he now is a leader of a company that aims to use solar-thermal technology to generate capacity equal to 11 nuclear power plants.

In his time at Southern California-based utility Edison, Bryson helped manage the company through a 2000-2001 energy crisis that bankrupted rival Pacific Gas & Electric, which was part of San Francisco-based PG&E Corp. Edison was forced to sell most of its overseas assets after its debt rating declined in part due to the crisis.

His credentials with the NRDC advocacy group gained him much support among environmentalists over the years. NRDC President Frances Beinecke said in a statement that Bryson is "a visionary leader in promoting a clean environment and a strong economy." During his presidency of the CPUC from 1979 to 1982, one of Bryson's contribution was to separate utility profits from power use rates, helping encourage utilities to promote energy conservation.