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Illinois Regulator Possible FERC Chairman

Charles E. Box, chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), is one of the names being mentioned to become either a FERC commissioner or possibly even chairman in the Obama administration.

Box, a Democrat, has been ICC chairman since January 2006; his term expires in January. He is the first African-American picked to head the five-member Illinois agency, which oversees natural gas, electricity, transportation and water. Prior to joining the ICC, Box was mayor of the city of Rockford, IL, from 1989-2001; city administrator, 1987-1988; and legal director, 1981-1987.

John Norris, chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) and a close friend of President-elect Obama, also is said to have a "pretty good shot" at becoming a commissioner, if not the chairman "down the road" at FERC, Washington sources said last month (see NGI, Dec. 1).

An acting chair, possibly either existing Commissioners Suedeen Kelly or Jon Wellinghoff, would likely oversee the Commission until Obama's nominee is confirmed by the Senate. If tapped, Norris, Box or another yet-to-be identified contender would succeed Chairman Joseph Kelliher, who is expected to leave FERC in January, a source said.

Norris has been a board member and chairman of the IUB since March 2005. Norris' wife and Obama's Iowa state director, Jackie, has been selected as incoming First Lady Michelle Obama's chief of staff.

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