Friday will be Colette Honorable’s final day at FERC, she said Tuesday, a departure that will leave the already quorumless panel with a single member, and a pair of Trump administration nominees remain on the sidelines awaiting Senate votes.
Honorable, who has served at FERC since late 2014, announced in late April that she would leave the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission when her term expired at the end of June. She confirmed at an event Tuesday at the Energy Information Administration that Friday would be her last day at FERC, her office told NGI.
Honorable’s term was scheduled to expire on June 30. Her departure would leave four empty seats on the ostensibly five-member Commission. FERC has been without a quorum since January, when Trump named Cheryl LaFleur acting chairman and Norman Bay, who had been at the helm since April 2015, submitted his resignation. FERC suspended its monthly meetings beginning in February as it awaited appointment of enough commissioners to achieve a quorum.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee gave its approval three weeks ago to two Trump FERC nominees — Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson — but they must be confirmed by the full Senate before taking office. Their nominations were placed on the Senate Executive Calendar June 6, but the Senate, engaged in a take-no-prisoners war over health care, had scheduled no votes as of Tuesday.
Last week, 30 trade associations, including several representing the natural gas and oil industry, urged Senate leaders to act quickly on Trump’s nominations to FERC. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) have expressed their frustration at the continuing lack of a quorum at FERC.
Trump nominated Chatterjee, a longtime energy policy adviser to McConnell, for the term expiring June 30, 2021, which was previously held by Tony Clark, who left FERC last September. Powelson, a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, was nominated for a term expiring June 30, 2020, previously held by Philip Moeller, who left FERC in October 2015. Powelson serves as the president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and is on the Electric Power Research Institute advisory board.
There is some question about the likelihood of LaFleur remaining at the helm at FERC, since she is a Democrat, and Trump and his nominees are Republicans. It is likely that a Republican will eventually be named chairman, although La Fleur has been popular and could remain on the Commission. By law, no more than three members of FERC may be from the same political party.
There have been reports that Trump plans to nominate Kevin McIntyre, an attorney with law firm Jones Day, to FERC and install him as chairman. McIntyre currently serves as co-head of the firm’s global energy practice. There have also been published reports that Rich Glick, a staff member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and former vice president at Iberdrola, would be nominated to FERC.
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