FERC nominees Norris, Clark testify before congressional panel

WASHINGTON 3/22/12 (PennWell) — Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominees John Norris and Anthony Clark testified March 20 before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, with Norris seeking a second term at FERC and Clark introducing himself to the panel for the first time.

President Obama renominated Commissioner Norris, a Democrat, and nominated North Dakota utility regulator Clark, a Republican, to the five-member panel.

Clark, who has served on the North Dakota Public Service Commission since 2001, was named to succeed Commissioner Marc Spitzer who left FERC in December. Norris, a lawyer and state utility regulator from Iowa, was first named to the commission by Obama in 2009. His initial term expires this year.

The pair testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is to recommend to the full Senate whether to confirm the nominations.

Norris: FERC can seize potential of energy supplies including hydro

Norris told the committee the United States has tremendous potential to make energy supplies more sustainable and secure due to shale gas discoveries, an abundance of hydroelectric power, technology advancements in other renewable resources, and a push for energy efficiency.

“At FERC, we can help seize this potential not only through the wholesale electric market and electric transmission policies I note above, but also by continuing to build on our impressive track record of fairly and efficiently siting needed natural gas pipeline infrastructure, by providing flexible licensing procedures for new hydroelectric technologies, and taking other steps to ensure that new energy infrastructure can be brought on line at just and reasonable rates,” Norris said.

Prior to his service at FERC, Norris was chief of staff to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and former chief of staff to then Iowa Gov. Vilsack, a former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, and chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board from 2005-2009.

Norris is a 1995 graduate of the University of Iowa College of Law, after receiving an undergraduate degree from Simpson College in Iowa. He served as chief of staff to Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, from 1997-1998, and from 1989-2003 owned a restaurant in Iowa.

Clark cites North Dakota energy expansion during his tenure

Clark introduced himself to the committee, highlighting the expansion of energy sources and supply during his tenure on the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

“In my tenure in office, I have participated in proceedings that have authorized approximately $6 billion in energy infrastructure projects,” he said. “At the same time, our state’s consumers pay some of the lowest energy rates in the nation, and our environment is among the best.”

Clark said when he began service on the PSC in 2001, North Dakota had several baseload lignite-fired power plants, one large Western Area Power Administration hydroelectric project, no wind projects, and was the nation’s ninth largest oil producer. Today, he said North Dakota is among the top 10 wind energy producers with 1,400 MW of capacity and is the nation’s third largest oil producer. He said the state is siting hundreds of miles of new transmission lines, investing in large oil and gas pipelines and processing infrastructure, and leading in clean coal and carbon capture projects.

During his time as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Clark said he worked hard to ensure that all voices were heard on energy issues.

“I successfully worked across regional lines, philosophical lines, and party lines for consensus-oriented solutions that benefited our nation’s consumers,” he said.

Clark also is a former North Dakota Labor Commissioner and state legislator. He holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and history education from North Dakota State University and a master’s in public administration from the University of North Dakota.

No more than three members of the same party may serve on the five-member commission. The other Republican on the panel is Commissioner Philip Moeller, whose term expires in 2015. The other two Democrats on the commission are Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, whose term expires in 2012, and Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, whose term expires in 2014.

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