The US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing last week to consider the nomination of Bernard L. McNamee, the current head of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Policy, to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission). FERC commissioners are appointed by the president of the United States but must also be confirmed by vote of a full Senate. President Donald Trump nominated Mr. McNamee, a Republican, in October to fill the vacant seat formerly occupied by former Commissioner Robert Powelson, who stepped down from his post earlier this year. If ultimately confirmed, Mr. McNamee will serve as the third Republican commissioner and restore the five-member panel to full strength.
In his testimony, Mr. McNamee stressed the agency’s vital role as an independent decision-making body. Some senators pressed the nominee on his heavy involvement with the DOE’s 2017 proposed rule on grid reliability and resilience pricing. That proposed rule directed the Commission to consider cost recovery mechanisms in organized markets for certain traditional baseload generators, but was ultimately rejected by the Commission earlier this year. Mr. McNamee responded by pledging to serve as an apolitical and impartial arbiter, but stopped short of committing to recuse himself from any future resiliency proceedings that may appear before the Commission.
A full webcast of the hearing is available from the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.