Citing FERC's tradition of bipartisanship, Commissioner Marc Spitzer told an energy conference in San Francisco Monday that the same cooperative approach is needed in Congress and elsewhere in Washington, DC, to address the nation's energy issues, such as climate change, which he thinks cannot be ignored.
Lame duck U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will be "sorely missed" because she epitomized a bipartisan approach to energy matters, Spitzer said as part of his keynote remarks at the Law Seminars International "Energy in California" conference.
Another speaker at the conference, Douglas Smith, a Van Ness Feldman attorney from Washington, DC, noted that it is unclear on the Republican side who will replace Murkowski as the ranking minority member on the Senate energy committee. Smith speculated that the next highest ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Burr, does not appear to have energy issues among his top priorities.
"Sen. Murkowski continued the bipartisan tradition in energy in the Senate that we have seen over the past 25 years," Spitzer said. Republicans and Democrats on the Senate committee have worked very cooperatively in Congress and with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as well, he said.
"Sen. Murkowski has a great understanding of energy issues, and having run in seven different elections myself I understand the difficulties of that, but she was a good member of Congress, she was good to FERC, she was good to ratepayers, and she will be sorely missed."
Spitzer later cited FERC's work on reliability standards and "pushback" from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) as an example of the Commission's willingness to work with critics. He said FERC will pay more attention to concerns raised by NERC and other industry interests.
Spitzer also said FERC will try to accommodate states' positions on feed-in tariffs; however, he declined to be more specific because of a case pending before the Commission.
"Energy is the lifeblood of this nation, and the state commissions are an essential part of making sure we get it right," Spitzer said.
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