Power & Pipes

FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments

The US Senate has confirmed the nominations of Mark Christie (R) and Allison Clements (D) to fill the remaining Republican and Democratic vacant seats on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. These confirmations restore FERC to its full capacity of five members for the first time in almost two years.

Mr. Christie is the current chairman of the Virginia State Corporation Commission, where he has served since 2004, and was previously the president of the Organization of PJM States Inc. He was confirmed to a term that ends in 2025. Mr. Christie’s appointment follows a longstanding FERC tradition of having a commissioner with a state utility commission background. Such former commissioners included Colette Honorable, who served on the Arkansas Public Service Commission, and Robert Powelson, who served on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

Ms. Clements is the founder and president of Goodgrid, LLC, an energy policy and strategy consulting firm, and was previously director of the energy markets program at Energy Foundation. She was confirmed to a term that ends in 2024.

FERC commissioners serve five-year, staggered terms, and no more than three of the five commissioners may be from the same party as the current president. Unless a new vacancy arises, the appointments of Mr. Christie and Ms. Clements ensure that the Commission will remain fully staffed through June 2021, when the term of Commissioner Chatterjee ends.

Until that time, three of the five Commissioners will be Republican; the president may designate a new chairman at any time. A Commission with a Republican majority that will presumably be led by a Democratic chairman beginning in late January could have difficulty addressing the issues on which FERC has recently had a partisan divide.