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Obama Nominates FERC Acting Chair LaFleur to New Commission Term

President Obama will nominate Cheryl LaFleur, who is currently acting chair at FERC, to a follow-up term on the Commission, the White House said Thursday.

In November, Obama tapped LaFleur to be acting chairman following the departure of Jon Wellinghoff, who ended his tenure as chairman after seven years of service (see Daily GPI, Nov. 21, 2013). Prognosticators had seen LaFleur as one of the possible successors to Wellinghoff, but in January Obama instead nominated Norman Bay, current director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Office of Enforcement (OE), to the Commission and to be designated chairman upon appointment by the U.S. Senate (see Daily GPI, Jan. 31).

LaFleur assuaged any concerns about possible bad feelings over being passed over for a full term as chairman when she responded to Obama's nomination announcement.

"I am very honored to be nominated for a second term at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission," she said. "If confirmed, I look forward to continuing to work with the wonderful team at FERC on the important energy issues facing our nation. I would like to thank President Obama for nominating me, and look forward to working with the Senate as they consider my nomination."

LaFleur, a Democrat, was nominated to FERC by Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2010 to a term to end next month. Prior to joining the Commission, she was the executive vice president and acting CEO of National Grid USA.

A bipartisan group of seven United States Senators representing New England states, led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), had called on Obama to renominate LaFleur to another term (see Daily GPI, April 2).

Shaheen said Obama's announcement Thursday was "great news for New England and New Hampshire's energy future.

"Cheryl's knowledge of energy issues, particularly her expertise on the Northeast region, make her a valuable member of the commission. Her continued leadership on FERC will ensure that the Northeast and New Hampshire are well represented on the commission and have a strong voice advocating for our interests."

Bay is Obama's second nominee to fill the spot vacated by Wellinghoff. Last year Obama tapped former Colorado regulator Ron Binz (see Daily GPI, July 1, 2013). But the nomination of Binz, a renewable energy and consumer advocate, was met by stiff resistance in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and he withdrew his name from consideration (see Daily GPI, Oct. 2, 2013).

Bay's nomination has been criticized in some quarters because he had no energy industry experience before going to OE in 2009 (see Daily GPI, March 27). Also, several investigations of possible trading violations by banks have been initiated during his term as enforcement chief. The Senate has yet to act on his nomination.

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