The nomination of Colette Honorable, current chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, to become a commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was confirmed by a voice vote in the U.S. Senate Tuesday night.
Honorable, who also is a past president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), received bipartisan support during vetting by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this month (see Daily GPI, Dec. 4).
"Colette brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the important issues we are facing," said FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur. "She and I worked together closely during her time as the president of NARUC, and I very much look forward to continuing that strong relationship when she joins the Commission."
Industry groups including the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA), America's Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) and Natural Gas Supply Association said they look forward to working with Honorable, a veteran producing state regulator.
"Commissioner Honorable's experience as the chair of the Arkansas Public Service Commission and president of the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners has a provided her with a strong background on natural gas policy," said INGAA CEO Don Santa.
Honorable "brings to the commission extensive knowledge and a long record as a leader in solving complex energy issues," said ANGA’s Frank Macchiarola, executive vice president for government affairs. "As demonstrated through her role as president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and vice chair of NARUC's Gas Committee, Ms. Honorable clearly understands the need for responsible development of our nation's natural gas resource and for a robust, safe and reliable infrastructure that can transport natural gas where and when it is needed."
Honorable became a PSC commissioner in 2007 and has been chairman since 2011. Before going to the PSC, Honorable served as executive director of the Arkansas Workforce Investment Board in 2007 and worked for Arkansas' then-Attorney General Mike Beebe in various roles, including as his chief of staff. She received a bachelor's degree from Memphis State University and a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
"Throughout her tenure at NARUC, Chairman Honorable was a fair and impartial regulator," said NARUC President Lisa Edgar. "She led our association with grace and determination, sharpening our focus on the safety and diversity of our nation's electricity system. We know she will be a tremendous asset at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission."
President Obama nominated Honorable in August to serve the remainder of former Commissioner John Norris' term, which expires June 30, 2017 (see Daily GPI, Aug. 29). Norris resigned from FERC earlier this year (see Daily GPI, Aug. 8).
In an unusual ad hoc session outside its normal chambers, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last week voted to advance Honorable's nomination (see Daily GPI, Dec. 11). It wasn't clear at that point if the full Senate would vote on the nomination before adjourning. But approval of a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill Saturday and some parliamentary maneuvering by majority leader Harry Reid cleared the decks for the Senate to vote on several Obama nominations.
The Senate on Tuesday also approved by a voice vote Chris Smith's nomination to be Assistant Secretary of Energy for fossil fuels. Smith previously served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Natural Gas and as the Designated Federal Official for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling that was established by President Obama to investigate the root causes of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.