A new Office of Energy Projects will oversee the engineering andenvironmental review aspects of pipeline certificates, splitting”our economic and non-economic regulatory efforts,” FERC ChairmanJames Hoecker said.

The new OEP will encompass hydroelectric project licensing andthe engineering and environmental aspects of new gas pipelineprojects. “Energy Projects will focus on another set of keyCommission Goals – project siting and development, balancingenvironmental and other concerns and safeguarding the public,”Hoecker said in announcing the new office. He said it would beabout equal in size to the new Office of Markets, Tariffs and Rates(OMTR). Hydropower licensing and the pipeline certificate processeshave much in common, Hoecker said, including the need for detailedenvironmental evaluations and the fact that they deal withlong-term projects that can be in effect for decades.

Other evidence the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has beenputting some meat on the bones of its FERC First restructuringefforts were the announcments over the last few weeks of a newdirector and deputy director of OMTR, which encompasses theeconomic aspects of gas and oil pipelines and electrictransmission. New OMTR Director Daniel Larcamp said FERC First isrolling toward a scheduled completion by March, 2000.

Larcamp stressed the “open architecture” of the newly organizedCommission will provide more flexibility. ” There is amisapprehension that pursuit of teams means they will be thrustinto an inflexible working environment. The converse is what istrue. Team roles and responsibilities may be less important forcertain projects than others.”

The convergence of the offices of natural gas and electricregulation mirrors what is going on in the industry, Larcamp said.He acknowledged the fact that pooling gas and oil pipeline andelectric regulation expertise may involve education for thosetaking on new areas, but he pointed to the benefits of having theopportunity and incentive for transferring ideas and practices tonew arenas.

Hoecker announced last week that Kevin Madden, former directorof the Office of Pipeline Regulation (OPR), has been named OMTRdeputy director. Also, the director of the Office of Electric PowerRegulation, Shelton M. Cannon, his deputy, Kevin A. Kelly, theDirector of the Office of Economic Policy Richard P. O’Neill andRobert J. Cupina, deputy director of OPR, have been named to aleadership team aimed at making a smooth transition of theirdepartments into the new OMTR.Larcamp, who joined Hoecker inannouncing Madden’s appointment, said he hoped it was clear therecould be other deputies in addition to Madden. “There is somesignificant talent at the tops of existing organizations and amongthose a level or two below the top ranks,” Larcamp told NGI.

Larcamp said he expected the new design of departments andfunctions would speed processing of applications. Staff from thenew OEP and OMTR “will work collaboratively as part of a team” onvarious projects with the OMTR staffer taking the lead on a projectwhen the driving force is economic and OEP managing the projectwhen environmental concerns are foremost.

Questioned as to whether the Senate’s cutting $10 million out ofFERC’s budget would mean staff would be cut, Larcamp said only that”an awful lot of efficiency improvements will be implemented as weconverge staffs….I don’t expect we’re in a ‘more people’ mode.”

Ellen Beswick

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