President Obama has nominated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Enforcement Director Norman C. Bay to be a FERC commissioner, with the intention to name Bay chairman once he is confirmed by the Senate.
If confirmed, Bay would succeed FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff whose commission term expired in June 2013.
Obama appointed Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur acting FERC chairman in November in the wake of the withdrawal of Obama’s nomination of controversial Colorado consultant Ronald J. Binz to be a member, and chairman, of the commission.
Since July 2009, Bay has been director of FERC’s Office of Enforcement, responsible for protecting energy market consumers from fraud or market manipulation affecting FERC-regulated wholesale natural gas and electric markets. Before joining the commission staff, he was a law professor at the University of New Mexico, teaching criminal law, evidence and constitutional law.
From 2000-2001, Bay, a Democrat, was U.S. attorney for New Mexico. From 1989-2000, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia and in New Mexico. Prior to his Justice Department service, he was attorney-adviser in the Office of Legal Adviser at the State Department.
Bay also served as clerk for Judge Otto R. Skopil of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Oregon. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School.
Obama’s nomination of a candidate with a legal background from within the commission might draw less Senate opposition than his previous unsuccessful nominee to FERC and its chairmanship. However, Bay’s views on various areas of energy policy have not been publicized.
Ronald Binz withdrew when it became apparent his nomination would receive a negative recommendation from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Binz’ reputation as a proponent of renewable energy at the expense of fossil fuels sparked much of the opposition, including that of a fellow Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who was particularly concerned about Binz’ work to close coal plants in Colorado.
No more than three members of the same party may serve on the five-member commission. Democrats on the commission are LaFleur, whose term expires in 2014 and John Norris, whose term expires in 2017. Republicans on the panel are Philip Moeller, whose term expires in 2015, and Anthony Clark, whose term expires in 2016.