In a surprise late-day move, FERC Commissioner Suedeen Kelly, who was nominated for a third term at the agency in March (see Daily GPI, March 23), said Monday she has decided to decline the nomination.

“I would like to thank President Obama for the honor of his nomination and for the trust he placed in me by asking me to serve another term at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But after much reflection, I have decided to respectfully decline the nomination,” Kelly, a Democrat, said in a three-paragraph statement.

She is expected to stay at FERC until the Senate confirms her replacement, said Bill Wicker, spokesman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“It is time for me to move on and pursue opportunities to advance these objectives in the private sector,” she said.

This is code for “she wants to go make some money” in the private sector, a source said. A FERC commissioner earns about $170,000 a year but can make significantly more either as an attorney or an energy executive.

Kelly has been a FERC commissioner since 2003. Her current term expired June 30. Kelly was chair of the New Mexico Public Service Commission, professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law and a legislative aide to Sen Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“Suedeen’s service for nearly six years has earned her praise and support from just about everyone involved with energy policy. I appreciate her many contributions at this transformational time for the utility industry,” Bingaman said. He was instrumental in getting Kelly nominated to FERC in 2003.

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