Hebert Talks to Bush Team about FERC Transition
With the Supreme Court last week effectively handing the keys to
the White House to now President-elect George W. Bush, speculation
has escalated in Washington D.C. over who will be tapped as the
next FERC chairman under a Republican administration.
Commissioner Curt Hebert Jr., the sole Republican among the four
current Commission members, has been quite candid over the past
months about his aspirations to succeed current Chairman James J.
Hoecker. "If George Bush is looking for someone.I know that I'll be
here and I'll work hard," he told NGI last week. Asked what he
thought his chances of becoming chairman were, Hebert said, "I
think you'd have to ask President-elect Bush that."
Others who are being mentioned as candidates include Pat Wood
III, chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, and former
FERC Commissioner Vicky Bailey, who now is president of PSI Energy
in Indiana, a subsidiary of Cinergy Corp. The Commission could be
down to three members by the time the new president is inaugurated.
Bailey's seat on the five-member Commission is still open and
current Chairman James Hoecker's seat also would be available if he
is not soon nominated for another term. His term and grace period
expire with the current Congress.
"We've heard that" Wood's name is being floated for FERC
chairman, "although we've also heard it for the Federal
Communications Commission," said PUC spokesman Terry Hadley.
Despite reports to the contrary, he noted that Wood is "not
necessarily" more interested in the FCC than FERC. "I certainly
wouldn't characterize one area being more interesting to Pat than
the other.he hasn't come out to lobby for any one position" But
Hadley hinted Wood might be better suited for FERC since "lately
he's been spending more time working through electric restructuring
He said he wasn't aware of any contact between Wood and the Bush
transition team. "I suspect it would be awhile before any appointed
positions below cabinet level finally get to the selection
process." Bailey was on vacation last week, and could not be
reached for comment. However, sources indicate she has little
interest in returning to FERC.
Hebert, who has close ties to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott
(R-MS), said he already has been in contact with "people on the
Bush team" in Austin, TX. In fact, "we've been working with the
Bush team before anyone was running against him in the primary or
otherwise. We continue to have those conversations, and are
comfortable moving towards the transition."
Looking to the future, he noted, "I think it's important that we
hit the ground running on Jan. 20, and get things moving
continually in the right direction. There's a lot of work to be
done here at FERC." Hebert dismissed reports that he might leave
the Commission if Bush ultimately selects someone else to head up
FERC over the next four years.
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