FERC nominees testify before congressional panel

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominees Philip D. Moeller and Cheryl A. LaFleur met with the Senate Energy Committee, one to talk about his first-term work with FERC and the other to introduce herself and her goals if she is confirmed to the commission.

President Obama renominated Commissioner Moeller, a Republican, and nominated utility executive LaFleur, a Democrat, to the five-member panel in March. (HydroWorld 3/11/10)

LaFleur, of Massachusetts, was named to succeed Commissioner Suedeen Kelly, a New Mexico Democrat. (HydroWorld 9/22/09) Moeller, of Washington, was named to the commission by President George W. Bush in 2006, serving a term slated to expire in June.

The pair testified April 27 before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The panel was scheduled to vote May 6 whether to recommend confirmation of their nominations by the full Senate.

Moeller cites benefits of hydropower

“I hail from the Pacific Northwest, the region that most relies on hydropower to deliver needed energy to consumers,” Moeller testified. “With that background, I have worked to assure that my colleagues have a thorough appreciation of hydropower and the benefits that this resource delivers.”

Prior to joining the commission, Moeller worked in Washington, D.C., for Alliant Energy Corp. and Calpine Corp. From 1997-2000, he was energy policy adviser to Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash.

Moeller said all energy sources, including hydropower, have inherent tradeoffs, but added that hydro is a mature renewable resource that provides enormous benefits through more than 1,600 projects, including about 2,600 dams, that are regulated by FERC.

“The new hydrokinetic technologies that make use of wave, tidal, ocean current, and in-stream current resources hold the promise of a new generation of benefits,” Moeller said. “The commission has worked to enable these technologies to be deployed, but the hydrokinetic industry is still a nascent one that needs attention to develop in an orderly manner while assuring that citizens and the environment are protected.”

Moeller also told committee members about FERC’s progress and goals in the areas of reliability, infrastructure, wholesale electricity markets, enforcement, grid integration of variable generation such wind and solar power, and smart grid. (HydroWorld 3/30/10)

LaFleur cites New England utility experience

LaFleur introduced herself to the committee, talking about her more than 20 years’ experience as a leader in the New England electricity and gas industries, retiring in 2007 as executive vice president and acting chief executive of National Grid USA.

“I have leadership experience both in a vertically integrated electric company with a diverse fossil, hydro, and nuclear portfolio, and in a restructured electric and gas company that provided transmission and distribution services and bought power in a competitive wholesale market,” LaFleur said.

LaFleur said she has had a part in her region’s early lead in robust competitive markets, demand-side programs, and efforts to boost renewable energy. At the same time, she said, New England lacks many indigenous energy resources and suffers from historically high energy prices.

“If confirmed as a FERC commissioner, I would work to understand and be sensitive to the unique situations and needs of different geographic regions and markets across the country and to approach all issues with an open mind,” she said.

No more than three members of the same political party may serve on the five-member commission. Democrats will include Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, LaFleur, and John R. Norris of Iowa, who was nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate in January. (HydroWorld 1/4/10) Republicans include Moeller and Marc Spitzer of Arizona.

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