FERC Chair: Hebert or Wood?
An underground battle was being waged last week over the FERC
chairmanship, with several sources reporting that current Chairman
Curt L. Hebert may be asked to step aside to make way for Pat Wood
III, currently chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission
(PUC). Wood was appointed to the PUC in 1995 by then-Governor
George W. Bush and was a member of the Bush energy transition team.
Reports were circulating that the White House would announce its
intention this week to nominate Wood as commissioner and appoint
him as chairman of FERC. Also, it's believed the White House will
announce its intent to nominate Joe Kelliher, special adviser to
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, to fill one of the two vacant
"Chairman Hebert has always said he would serve at the pleasure
of the president," said a FERC spokesman, when asked if the reports
were true. "I don't have any comment beyond this."
Indications that Hebert may not have as firm a hold on the
chairmanship as previously believed surfaced earlier last week when
Chairman W.J. "Billy" Tauzin of the House Energy and Commerce
Committee said he supported Hebert for FERC chairman on a permanent
basis. Many in Washington thought Hebert already was the White
House's final choice for chairman. At a hearing of the committee's
energy and air quality subcommittee last Wednesday, Tauzin called
Hebert "fully competent and qualified" for the job.
A further indication that an underground battle was on came when
a resolution was circulated last week at a meeting of natural gas
representatives in Washington to endorse Hebert as chairman of
FERC, sources said.
The White House notified Hebert, the only Republican currently
on the Commission, on Jan. 24 that he was to take over from
Democratic Chairman James Hoecker. But it was never clear whether
Hebert's appointment was as "acting" or permanent chairman. Hebert
indicated at the time that it was permanent, but the White House
never has made any announcement to that effect and Hebert never
moved into the chairman's suite of offices at FERC. Sources at the
time gave conflicting accounts, with some saying the appointment
How quickly Wood could take over as FERC chairman would depend
on how smoothly his confirmation moves through the Senate. It was
not immediately known whether Hebert would stay on as a
commissioner at FERC. Wood would not be a stranger to FERC, having
previously served as a legal counsel to a FERC commissioner.
©Copyright 2001 Intelligence Press, Inc. All rights
reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or
redistributed in whole or in part without prior written consent of
Intelligence Press, Inc.