Senate panel weighs FERC nominees Moeller, Wellinghoff

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominees Philip Moeller and Jon Wellinghoff testified June 8 before the Senate Energy Committee, which is considering whether to recommend Senate confirmation of their appointments by President Bush.

Moeller, a Republican from Washington State, is director of the Washington, D.C., office of Alliant Energy Corp. Wellinghoff, an independent from Nevada, is partner in the law firm Beckley Singleton, specializing in energy and consumer law. If confirmed, Moeller would serve a term expiring June 30, 2010. Wellinghoff’s term would expire June 30, 2008.

Moeller told senators of his involvement in energy policy development for more than 20 years. He noted he came to the Senate in 1997 to work for then-Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., with primary responsibilities involving a wide range of energy policy.

“As a Senate office, we saw the Western electricity crisis develop in the early summer of 2000 and witnessed the devastating impacts that high prices had on the economy of the state and region, and on the lives of the consumers and citizens of our state and the entire West,” Moeller said.

Moeller said he focused on regional energy issues and hydropower policy, and also helped develop electric reliability legislation.

“The memories of that experience will always motivate me to work at assuring that energy consumers are protected when energy policy is actually implemented in the marketplace,” he said.

If confirmed, Moeller said, he would closely follow whether the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is working to meet the intent of Congress.

Wellinghoff testified energy and regulatory law and policy had been the primary focus of his career for more than 30 years. He said he worked in the public and private sectors, and represented consumers and utilities. He also said he has supported business and public interests advocating energy efficiency, renewable energy, retail competition, and clean coal technologies. He was Nevada’s first consumer advocate for public utility customers.

If confirmed, Wellinghoff said, he hopes to bring with him a general philosophy that energy regulation be efficient, effective, and responsive to the needs of the energy consumer.

Brownell bids farewell as FERC term ends

In a letter thanking President Bush for the opportunity to serve, Commissioner Nora Mead Brownell said she would continue to work at FERC until the first week of August to allow the nominees time to complete confirmation. Brownell’s term expires June 30.

“While I take great pride in what my colleagues and I have accomplished during my term of office, challenges remain,” she said. “Strong leadership is required, particularly in the electricity sector beset with 20 years of under-investment in the power grid. And certainty is essential to attract new capital to all parts of the energy sector.”

FERC is composed of five members appointed by the president with the consent of the Senate. Commissioners serve five-year terms. No more than three commissioners may belong to the same political party. The president designates one member to serve as chairman.

Currently, two of FERC’s three members are Republicans, Brownell and Chairman Joseph Kelliher. Commissioner Suedeen Kelly is the lone Democrat. Kelliher’s term expires June 30, 2007, while Kelly’s expires June 30, 2009.

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