Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wellinghoff Designated Chairman of FERC by President Obama

On March 19, President Obama announced the designation of Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff to be Chairman of FERC. For a brief period, since January, Commissioner Wellinghoff was Acting Chairman.

President Obama also renominated Commissioner Suedeen Kelly for another five-year term. This brings to an end speculation that the direction of FERC might be significantly changed in the Obama Administration. See FERC Chairman Kelliher Resigns; Who Will President Obama Pick?; Will President Obama Repurpose FERC?

All of the sitting Commissioners, including the new Chairman, were initially appointed by former President George W. Bush.

All of the current commissioners are from Western states:
  • Chairman Wellinghoff is from Nevada, where he had been a state official involved in utility matters; in subsequent private practice he represented the interests of casinos and other large electricity users.
  • Commissioner Kelly is from New Mexico; she previously represented the California ISO, which operates wholesale electricity spot markets.
  • Commissioner Moeller is from Washington state, where he worked in the state legislature; subsequently he was a lobbyist in Washington DC for utility and merchant power interests.
  • Commissioner Spitzer is a former Arizona state senator and former Chairman of the Arizona Corporations Commission who supported electricity deregulation.
The Commission has one vacancy due to the resignation of former Chairman Joseph Kelliher.

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