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November 26, 2013

Wellinghoff Steps Down, FERC Names Acting Chair

On Sunday, Jon Wellinghoff, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s longest-serving chairman, officially stepped down,  FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur has stepped in to temporarily lead the agency.  Ms. LaFleur was nominated by President Obama to serve as a FERC commissioner in 2010, prior to which she was the CEO of National Grid USA.

FERC still does not have a permanent chair after the White House’s initial nominee, former Colorado utility regulator Ron Binz, withdrew his name from consideration in September amid heavy opposition from Senate Republicans and lawmakers aligned with the coal industry.

Since Binz’s withdrawal, several names have turned up in discussions to lead FERC: Collette Honorable, Chairwoman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission; Lynn Evans, Board Member at the Tennessee Valley Authority; Rose McKinney-James, Former Commissioner on the Nevada Public Utilities Commission; Edward Finley, Chairman of the North Carolina Utilities Commission; Norman Bay, Director of Enforcement at FERC and Regina Speed-Bost, attorney with Schiff Hardin and former FERC staffer.

FERC oversees the electric grid, interstate natural gas pipelines and litany of other issues central to the nation’s energy consumption. In recent years, it has also made headlines for Wellinghoff’s attempts to make it easier to hook wind and solar projects to the grid, as well as the fines it has imposed on Wall Street firms like JPMorgan Chase for alleged manipulation of energy markets.

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