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FERC once again has quorum, Chatterjee named temporary chairman


From the August 11, 2017 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published August 10, 2017

By Jeannine Anderson
News Editor

After the swearing-in of its two newly confirmed commissioners, Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission now has a quorum and can resume making major policy decisions.

For the last six months, FERC has lacked the quorum of three sitting commissioners that is needed for the agency to take major policy actions.

The Senate confirmed Chatterjee and Powelson, who are both Republicans, on Aug. 3.

On Sept. 7, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for two more nominees to the commission. The two are 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.

Meanwhile, FERC announced in an Aug. 10 news release that President Trump has named Chatterjee to be FERC’s chairman until McIntyre can be confirmed. Chatterjee takes the reins from Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, who was named acting chairman early this year.

"I want to thank Chairman LaFleur for the tremendous work she's done in guiding the agency,” said Chatterjee, noting that the months-long absence of a quorum “was unprecedented.”

“I am honored that President Trump has designated me as chairman of the commission until Kevin McIntyre is confirmed, and I am eager to take on this responsibility,” Chatterjee said. “I look forward to working with Commissioner LaFleur and Commissioner Powelson on behalf of the American people. And I hope that we will have all five commissioners here soon with the confirmation of Kevin McIntyre and Rich Glick."

Chatterjee, who has been 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.

Powelson will serve out the remainder of a term that ends in June 2020. Powelson came to FERC from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. He joined the PUC in June 2008 and led the PUC as chairman from February 24, 2011 to May 7, 2015.

Powelson is past president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, where he also was a member of the Board of Directors.

FERC to resume regular monthly meetings

Meanwhile, FERC on Aug. 10 said it will resume its monthly open meeting schedule in September, with a meeting set for 10 a.m. on Sept. 20 at FERC headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Chatterjee said that with the swearing-in of Powelson, FERC has restored the quorum it lost in February, and the Commission will soon begin voting notationally on the orders that have been held up since then.

“The Commission has a continuing responsibility to carry out its regulatory obligations under the Federal Power Act, Natural Gas Act, and Interstate Commerce Act, among other statutes, so without a quorum, FERC staff has been acting under limited delegated authority,” FERC said in a news release.

That delegation period, which began February 4, ends 14 days following the date the quorum is re-established.

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