Kelliher resigns from FERC chairmanship

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Joseph Kelliher announced Jan. 7 he will step down as chairman, effective Jan. 20.

Kelliher, whose term as commissioner is to end June 30, 2012, said he would remain on the commission while looking for a new job.

�Although my term as commissioner does not end until 2012, I will also immediately begin to recuse myself from FERC business, as I explore other career opportunities,� Kelliher, a Washington, D.C., Republican, said.

Kelliher was confirmed by the Senate in November 2003 and appointed chairman by President Bush in June 2005. After Kelliher’s term expired in June 2007, Bush nominated him to serve an additional five-year term. The Senate reconfirmed Kelliher in December 2007. (HNN 12/20/07)

FERC commissioners meet monthly on agenda items selected by the chairman. The commission’s next monthly meeting is Jan. 15. A FERC spokeswoman said President-elect Obama’s transition team or the Obama administration would name an acting chairman or new chairman at some point. Obama, a Democrat, is to be inaugurated president on Jan. 20.

FERC is composed of five members appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The president names the commission chairman. No more than three members may belong to the same political party.

Kelliher is one of three Republicans on the commission, the others being Philip Moeller of Washington and Marc Spitzer of Arizona. There is one Democrat on the commission, Suedeen Kelly from New Mexico. Jon Wellinghoff, a Nevada independent, is the fifth commission member.

As chairman, Kelliher has voiced his opinion on a number of matters of interest to the hydroelectric industry and acted on numerous hydro cases. In December, he warned parties involved in relicensing to include FERC staff when negotiating complicated settlement agreements for licensing of some hydro projects. (HNN 12/19/08)

Kelliher also maintains FERC holds jurisdiction over ocean energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf, despite a competing claim by the Department of Interior’s Minerals Management Service. (HNN 10/17/08)

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