Richard Glick, a Democrat who joined FERC in 2017, was named chairman of the Commission by President Biden on Thursday.

Richard Glick

“This is an important moment to make significant progress on the transition to a clean energy future. I look forward to working with my colleagues to tackle the many challenges ahead,” said Glick, who was nominated to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by former President Trump in August 2017 and confirmed by the Senate in November that year.

Glick, whose five-year term expires in June 2022, took over the chairman’s reins from Republican James Danly, who will continue to serve as a commissioner.

As the senior Democrat on the Commission when Biden took office, Glick was widely believed to be the most likely pick to lead FERC under the new administration. Biden, a Democrat, was inaugurated on Wednesday. 

As chairman, Glick’s vote will equal those of other commissioners, but the head of the Commission generally sets the agency’s overall agenda. FERC, the principal regulator of the natural gas and electricity sectors, operates as an independent agency; however, the president’s priorities typically permeate policy setting throughout the executive branch.

Against that backdrop, Glick likely stood out to Biden as a reliable ally, analysts said, because he has often clashed with his Republican counterparts, including on reviews of the impacts of natural gas infrastructure projects on specific environmental issues and climate change more broadly.

“We expect FERC to move away from a ‘market above all else’ stance” on regulation, analysts at ClearView Energy Partners LLC said.

FERC is to operate within what Biden vowed would be a starkly different approach to energy policy than what the United States pursued under Trump.

On his first day in office, the new president ordered the United States back into the United Nations climate accord, widely known as the Paris agreement, from which Trump formally withdrew in 2020. Atop numerous other proposals, Biden campaigned on a $2 trillion infrastructure and clean energy plan to address climate change.

Biden envisions getting the United States on a path to a carbon-free power sector by 2035 and a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. Trump, in contrast, eschewed efforts to address climate change and instead focused on removing rules and easing regulation of the oil and gas industry.

Republicans hold a majority on FERC’s five-member Commission. However, Democrats won control of the Senate following the run-off elections in Georgia earlier this month, raising the likelihood that Biden’s party will gain plurality on the Commission after Republican commissioner Neil Chatterjee’s term expires in July. The president then would be able to nominate a successor. The Senate is tasked with approving nominations.

Commissioner Allison Clements, who was confirmed in December, joined Glick as the other Democrat.

Before joining FERC, Glick was general counsel for the Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Earlier in his career, he was vice president of government affairs for Iberdrola’s U.S. renewable energy, electric and gas utility operations.  

Glick, a graduate of George Washington University and Georgetown University’s law school, previously served as a director of government affairs for PPM Energy.  

FERC’s next public meeting is scheduled for Feb. 18.