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Powelson's FERC Tenure to End Friday

Commissioner Robert Powelson's previously announced exit from FERC will happen Friday, one year to the day after he was sworn in, he said in a podcast released by the agency Wednesday.

Powelson had said in June that he would be leaving the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in mid-August, but until now no specific date for his departure had been announced. Powelson is moving on to become president and CEO of the National Association of Water Companies.

The White House has not announced a nominee to replace Powelson at FERC. His absence and that of a replacement could once again put the brakes on some Commission activities.

In what may have been his last public comment as a Commissioner, Powelson said FERC Order 888, issued in 1996 to require owners of electric transmission facilities to make transmission services available on the open market, "unleashed this economic marvel that a lot of countries have looked at in terms of the diversity of our portfolio [and] the reliability of our portfolio...

"I don't think the Commission in any way is going to retreat on that. I think we're at an inflection point, a very positive inflection point to kind of tee up a conversation around the evolution of what the new power grid looks like. By the way, that new power grid has a lot of natural gas molecules on it. And we are at the epicenter of that, not only in terms of siting that infrastructure, but also in protecting that infrastructure."

President Trump announced Powelson's nomination to FERC in May 2017 for a term expiring June 30, 2020. His swearing in on Aug. 10, 2017, brought to an end a months-long quorumless stretch at the Commission.

Powelson is one of three Republicans at FERC, along with Chairman Kevin McIntyre and Commissioner Neil Chatterjee. Commissioners Richard Glick and Cheryl LaFleur are Democrats.

Powelson’s departure may hinder projects going forward. In recent months the Commission has split its votes on some pipeline certificates, three Republicans to two Democrats. Without Powelson and without a replacement in sight, there is the threat of tie votes, and/or the Chairman could choose not to put major projects on the docket at all.

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