Willie L. Phillips, Chairman of the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (DCPSC), has been nominated as the next commissioner of FERC, the White House announced Thursday.

Phillips, a lawyer and regulator whose resume includes nearly 20 years of experience in issues of public utility regulation, bulk power system reliability and corporate governance, would replace Republican Commissioner Neil Chatterjee. 

The Biden administration said it tapped Phillips to join FERC because of his experience as a “thoughtful and innovative leader modernizing the energy grid” at the DCPSC, where he has implemented “aggressive clean energy and climate goals” and worked to protect D.C. utility customers.

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Word of Phillips’ nomination drew congratulations from various stakeholders Thursday, including Chairman Richard Glick, who praised his prospective colleague as “highly qualified and very well regarded.”

Having a full complement of five FERC commissioners will be “critical” to the work of “advancing our nation’s clean energy transition and to ensuring the reliability and security of our energy infrastructure,” Glick said.

For his part, Chatterjee on Twitter said he is “thrilled” to see Phillips nominated as his replacement.

“Should he be confirmed, it would be an honor to have him succeed me,” Chatterjee, whose term expired at the end of June, said. “Good luck!”

The Interstate Natural Gas Association of America also offered congratulations to Phillips and called on the Senate to “act promptly” in approving his nomination. However, the trade group’s CEO Amy Andryszak used the occasion to emphasize the importance of natural gas in the energy mix at a time when FERC appears poised to heighten its scrutiny of pipeline infrastructure amid the Biden’s administration’s clean energy push.

“As the Senate considers Chairman Phillips’ nomination, it is critical that he demonstrates a commitment to a predictable and clear regulatory process and evaluating each project on its merits in accordance with federal law to ensure that needed natural gas infrastructure will be built in a timely fashion,” Andryszak said. 

“FERC commissioners should also exhibit an appreciation for the foundational role of natural gas in accomplishing FERC’s mission to ‘assist consumers in obtaining economically efficient, safe, reliable, and secure energy services at a reasonable cost,’ and in achieving our country’s climate and jobs goals.”

Before joining the DCPSC, Phillips served as the assistant general counsel for the North American Electric Reliability Corp. He has also worked as a private lawyer, advising clients on regulatory compliance and policy matters and assisting in litigation and administrative proceedings at both the federal and state levels.

Phillips is an active member of the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners, serving on the group’s board of directors and chairing its Select Committee on Regulatory and Industry Diversity.

Phillips earned a Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Montevallo.