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Senate confirms two for FERC, restoring quorum at agency

From the August 7, 2017 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published August 4, 2017

By Jeannine Anderson
News Editor

The Senate voted to confirm the nominations of Neil Chatterjee and Robert F. Powelson for seats on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Aug. 3 vote to confirm President Trump’s two Republican nominees means that FERC will once again have a quorum.

Chatterjee, a senior energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will serve out the remainder of a term that ends in June 2021, FERC said in an Aug. 4 news release.

Powelson, a member and former chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission since 2008 and current president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, will serve out the remainder of a term that ends in June 2020.
FERC Acting Chairman Cheryl A. LaFleur congratulated the two on their confirmation and said she looks forward to working with them.

“They each bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the important issues we are facing,” LaFleur said. “With a quorum restored, our first order of business is the backlog of orders and issues that are awaiting commission consideration.”

At a confirmation hearing for Chatterjee and Powelson held in late May, the two discussed a wide range of topics, including the changing nature of the U.S. electricity industry, budget cuts proposed for the Energy Department, and the evolution of the concept of baseload power.

FERC has lacked a quorum since February

For the last few months, since the departure of former FERC Commissioner Norman Bay in early February, the agency has lacked a quorum because it had only two sitting commissioners: Acting Chairman LaFleur and Commissioner Colette Honorable, whose term expired on June 30. Since Honorable’s departure earlier this summer, the commission has been left with only one commissioner.

The statute that created FERC (the Department of Energy Organization Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7171) provides that the commission must have a quorum of three members in order to take action.

Early this year, the American Public Power Association and a number of other groups said the lack of a quorum at FERC threatened a state of inaction at the commission that “could have profound negative impacts.”

Confirmation hearing set for two more FERC nominees

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, announced on Aug. 3 that the committee will hold a hearing on Sept. 7 for Richard Glick, President Trump’s Democratic FERC nominee, and Kevin McIntyre, a Republican nominee who is the president’s pick to chair the five-person commission.

If the two are confirmed by the full Senate, as expected, Glick’s term would end on June 30, 2022 and McIntyre’s term would end on June 30, 2023.

Glick currently serves as minority staff general counsel for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. McIntyre is currently a partner with the Jones Day law firm in Washington, D.C., where he is the "co-lead" of the firm's Energy Practice group.

Brouillette confirmed for No. 2 slot at DOE

Also on Aug. 3, the Senate confirmed Dan Brouillette to be deputy secretary at the Department of Energy.

In an Aug. 3 statement, Murkowski said, “Mr. Brouillette is well-qualified to be deputy secretary of energy, and will be a good second-in-command to oversee programs critical to cybersecurity, energy innovation, and scientific discovery.”


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