FERC Welcomes a New Commissioner, but Another Bids Farewell


It’s been an exciting week at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). First, the good news: a hearty congratulations goes out to the newly minted Chairman Cheryl LaFleur and Commissioner Norman Bay! 

President Obama made LaFleur chairman effective July 30, and Bay was sworn in as commissioner this past Monday. Commissioner Bay will become Chairman effective April 15, 2015.

Now for the not-so-good news. Yesterday, we learned that Commissioner John Norris is resigning his post later this month.

The Sustainable FERC Project is disappointed to lose a commissioner who has championed removing barriers to getting renewable energy on the grid, who has created market opportunities for clean demand-side resources like energy efficiency and demand response, and who understands the extent of the climate change challenge and the role that FERC must play to eliminate transmission grid barriers to facilitate public policies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule to reduce carbon pollution.

Always one to stand up for what he believes, Commissioner Norris has dissented in FERC decisions having adverse impacts on renewables and demand-side resources as well as programs or technologies that can improve existing transmission without constructing new lines (also known as non-transmission alternatives).

Commissioner Norris’ exit has another important implication. FERC has many important challenges ahead  – challenges more easily tackled with a full slate of five commissioners.  But the last time around, over a year elapsed after former Chairman Jon Wellinghoff’s resignation announcement before the Senate confirmed a new chairman. Here’s hoping that it’ll be easier to fill the empty seat this time around.

Thank you for your service, Commissioner Norris!