The nation is again one step closer to having a full slate of five commissioners to preside over the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates America’s transmission grid, wholesale sales of electricity, and gas pipeline infrastructure.
The White House this week announced plans to nominate Colette Honorable to fill the seat left by Commissioner John Norris (who earlier this month departed for a U.S. Department of Agriculture position in Italy).
The nomination follows a rollercoaster of a year of departures, nominations and confirmations among FERC leadership. After former Chairman Jon Wellinghoff left the agency last November, the president's initial choice to replace him, Ron Binz, withdrew from consideration after a prolonged and contentious consideration period. Next, the president appointed Norman Bay to replace Wellinghoff. Bay, after another prolonged confirmation process, has been confirmed as commissioner and will take over the top role from Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur next year. It was after Bay’s Senate confirmation and LaFleur’s reconfirmation this summer that Norris announced his departure.
Honorable is the chair of the Arkansas Public Service Commission and current president of the national association of state utility regulators known as NARUC. As member of the Arkansas Public Service Commission since 2007 and chair since 2011, she has made important strides in promoting gas and electric energy efficiency in the state of Arkansas.
Honorable has a reputation as a thought leader and consensus builder, two skills important in being an effective FERC commissioner. She also has been a vocal spokesperson for state interests in two of the nation’s regional transmission organizations that are subject to FERC’s oversight: SPP (the Southwest Power Pool, involving utilities, power generators and marketers in nine southwestern states) and MISO (the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc. that regulates transmission and the provision of electric power across all or parts of 15 midwestern states).
In addition to being pleased that the president has announced this nomination, we look forward to a settled slate of five commissioners to lead FERC forward.
The commission has important work ahead – including ensuring that policies governing the grid provide fair opportunities for -- and do not discriminate against – using clean energy resources like wind power, rooftop solar, energy storage, and energy efficiency to make our electricity rather than continue with dirty fossil fuels sources for generation. Filling FERC’s five commissioner positions is critical to success of this work and other important priorities.