Commissioner Robert F. Powelson has announced he will resign from his position with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in mid-August, to take on the role of president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Water Companies.
Powelson was nominated to this position in May 2017 and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in August 2017.
Powelson broke with President Donald Trump on the issue of coal and nuclear bailouts. In January, FERC unanimously rejected Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to provide special payments to coal and nuclear plants for their ability to store fuel onsite for 90 days. Reports indicate the Department of Energy is considering a new proposal that may use executive national security powers to circumvent FERC.
His departure could pave the way for Trump to appoint someone more supportive of his push for possible subsidies to help struggling coal-fired and nuclear power plants. The White House has not commented on when the president might announce a replacement for Powelson nor whom this might be.
He came to FERC from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, where he was chairman from 2011 to 2015. Powelson also is past president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
“I express my gratitude to President Trump for nominating me and to the members of the United States Senate who confirmed me,” he said in a statement June 28. “I thank my colleagues for their steadfast commitment to FERC’s mission, members of the public who help inform our decisions, and the staff at FERC for their dedication and support throughout my time at the Commission.”
Powelson’s term was to expire in June 2020.
FERC is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines, as well as licensing hydropower projects.