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White House Taps Arizona Regulator to Succeed Brownell at FERC

June 19, 2006
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The White House last Monday forwarded to the Senate the nomination of Arizona regulator Marc Spitzer to a five-year term on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, replacing outgoing Commissioner Nora Mead Brownell.

Spitzer currently is a commissioner on the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). He had been chairman of the state commission from 2003-2005, and prior to that was a state senator. He has been tapped for a term expiring on June 30, 2011. Spitzer would succeed Brownell, whose term ends on June 30 but who has informed the White House that she plans to stay on at FERC until the first week of August to "allow those who have been recently nominated to go through the confirmation process."

If confirmed by the Senate, Spitzer, a Republican, would join Jon Wellinghoff, a Democrat, and Philip D. Moeller, a Republican, as new members at FERC. Wellinghoff, a partner with the law firm of Beckley Singleton in Colorado, and Moeller, executive director of the Washington office for Alliant Energy Corp., were nominated by the White House in March, and appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier this month (see NGI, June 12). The committee is expected to readily vote out their nominations on Wednesday, but they could face problems in the full Senate due to the abbreviated legislative session and crowded agenda.

The Commission would have a decided western makeup, given that all three nominees have ties to the West and existing Commissioner Suedeen Kelly is from New Mexico.

The Electric Power Supply Association called for the Senate to "act as swiftly as possible" to confirm Spitzer, saying "he brings an immense amount of experience and knowledge of electricity markets" to the agency.

In addition to his electricity background, Spitzer, as chairman of the ACC, focused on policies encouraging the expansion of the natural gas infrastructure, particularly distribution and storage facilities; enhancing ACC's renewables standard; and creating an energy demand-side management policy.

The political makeup of the Commission would be three Republicans and two Democrats if the new nominees are confirmed. FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher is a Republican, while Commissioner Kelly is a Democrat.

Spitzer is a native of Pittsburgh, PA, and grew up in Philadelphia. After graduating from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, he attended the University of Michigan School of Law. He is married and has a son.

Kelliher was pleased by the White House action on the nominees. He noted that FERC has been undermanned over the years, with all five commission seats filled only "three months in the past six years." It will be "unusual for us to be back to five."

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