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Senate Panel Approves Two FERC Nominees

The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the nominations of Philip Moeller and Jon Wellinghoff to become members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Moeller currently is head of Wisconsin-based utility Alliant Energy's Washington, DC, office. Wellinghoff is an attorney with Nevada-based law firm Beckley Singleton.

Upon approval by the full Senate, Moeller, a Republican, would take former FERC Chairman Pat Wood's seat on the Commission. His term would expire June 30, 2010. Wellinghoff, a Democrat, would take former commissioner William Massey's seat with a term expiring June 30, 2008. It could be challenging for the full Senate to schedule a vote on the nominees given the short legislative session and a packed agenda.

Earlier this month, the White House forwarded to the Senate panel the nomination of Arizona regulator Marc Spitzer, a Republican, to a five-year term on the 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 would succeed Brownell, whose term ends on June 30 but who 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." The Senate Energy panel said it will hold a hearing on Wednesday to consider the Spitzer nomination.

If the Senate confims all three nominations, the political makeup of the Commission would be three Republicans and two Democrats. FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher is a Republican, while existing Commissioner Suedeen Kelly is a Democrat.

Moeller and Wellinghoff recently told the Senate Energy Committee that they supported the Alaska gas pipeline project, greater energy market transparency, a close watch on the impact of energy speculation in the futures market and ensuring that gas and power rates are just and reasonable (see NGI, June 12).

Prior to representing Alliant Energy, Moeller worked in the Washington office of Calpine Corp. From 1997 through 2000, he served as an energy policy advisory to Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) where he focused on electricity policy, electric system reliability, hydropower, energy efficiency, nuclear waste, energy and water appropriations and other energy legislation.

Moeller also previously served for nearly 10 years as the staff coordinator for the Washington State Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications. He was born in Chicago and raised on a ranch near Spokane, WA. He received a B.A. in Political Science from Stanford University.

Wellinghoff has concentrated his law practice in the fields of energy law and utility regulation for 30 years. In addition to representing clients before the Nevada Commission where his regulatory practice is primarily focused, he also has clients before several other western state regulatory commission and FERC. Wellinghoff previously was appointed by the attorney general of Nevada to serve as the state's first utility consumer advocate. He also was staff counsel to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission and was a staff attorney for the Federal Trade Commission. Wellinghoff received a B.S. from the University of Nevada, an M.A.T. from Howard University, and a J.D. from the Antioch School of Law.

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