A bipartisan group of seven United States Senators representing New England states, led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), is calling on President Obama to re-nominate FERC Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur to another term as Commissioner after her current term expires in June.
"We believe it is vital to nominate someone with knowledge of the energy issues impacting the United States and Acting Chairman LaFleur is presently the only individual on the Commission with deep knowledge of the Northeast region's unique energy challenges," the lawmakers said in a letter sent to Obama Monday. "Her expertise in energy and competitive wholesale markets give her a thorough understanding of how regulators' decisions affect real customers, especially those in New England."
The letter was signed by four Democrats (Shaheen, Edward Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Jack Reed (D-RI)), two Republicans (Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME)) and one Independent (Angus King (I-ME)). LaFleur's term on the Commission is set to expire June 30.
In November, Obama tapped LaFleur to be Acting Chairman following the departure of Jon Wellinghoff, who ended his tenure as Chairman after seven years of service (see Daily GPI, Nov. 21, 2013). Prognosticators had seen LaFleur as one of the possible successors to Wellinghoff, but in January Obama instead nominated Norman Bay, current director of FERC's Office of Enforcement (OE), to the Commission and to be designated chairman upon appointment by the U.S. Senate (see Daily GPI, Jan. 31).
Bay is Obama's second nominee to fill the spot vacated by Wellinghoff. Last year Obama tapped former Colorado regulator Ron Binz (see Daily GPI, July 1, 2013). But the nomination of Binz, a renewable energy and consumer advocate, was met by stiff resistance in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and he withdrew his name from consideration (see Daily GPI, Oct. 2, 2013).
Bay's nomination has been criticized in some quarters because he had no energy industry experience before going to OE in 2009 (see Daily GPI, March 27).