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Former Iowa utility regulator John Norris is to be sworn in Monday by FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, becoming the newest member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Senate confirmed Norris in late December, ending a three-month stalemate over his nomination (see NGI, Jan. 4). Norris, a Democrat, joins Wellinghoff, a Democrat; Commissioner Philip D. Moeller, a Republican; and Commissioner Marc Spitzer, a Republican. One Democrat seat will be vacant. Because the political make-up of the Commission will be evenly split, at least for the time being, the agency in the coming months could be tied on certain energy orders, which would prevent them from being voted out. The White House reportedly is looking at two prominent female state commissioners -- Colette D. Honorable, a member of the Arkansas Public Service Commission; and Lauren Azar, a member of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission -- to succeed former Commissioner Suedeen Kelly, who left the agency in late December. Norris will finish the term vacated by former FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher, which expires on June 30, 2012. Norris was a board member and chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board from March 2005 until early 2009. Prior to joining FERC, Norris was chief of staff for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

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