Reports swirled around Washington last week that the White Houseplans to tap Bill Richardson, U.S. Ambassador to the UnitedNations, as the next secretary of the Department of Energy, butthere was no official confirmation. If true, this would mark thesecond time Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Moler, who mostconcede is best qualified for the job, has been edged out of thetop energy post.

As this played out in Washington, officials of key electricitytrade groups at GasMart/Power ’98 in New Orleans last week werequestioning whether Moler had the vote-getting potential beingsought by the White House to become successor to departing EnergySecretary Federico Pena.

“I think most people recognize Deputy Secretary Moler isclearly the most eligible in terms of knowledge and ability to getthings done. However, she has one major flaw,” said Lynne Church,executive director of the Electric Power Supply Association. She’s”not in a position to deliver a large bloc of votes for [VicePresident Al Gore] in 2000,” in the event he makes a run forpresident, she noted.

“So the White House is currently trying to decide [whether it’s]more important to put someone in as secretary who knows whatthey’re doing, or to find some other very capable person.who comesfrom a public interest group, such as the Hispanic community, andcould be depended upon to deliver the votes,” Church said.

©Copyright 1998 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. Thepreceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, inwhole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent ofIntelligence Press,Inc.