The White House publicly confirmed yesterday what has been rumored for months — that Commissioner Pat Wood III will be the next chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Wood, a Republican with close ties to President Bush, will take the helm of the Commission on Sept. 1. He will succeed current Chairman Curt Hebert Jr. who, after a seven-month stint as head of FERC, announced he will resign at the end of the month to join New Orleans, LA-based Entergy Corp. as executive vice president of external affairs.

“I was notified last week” about the appointment, Wood told NGI, but the White House waited until Tuesday to formally announce it. “I was hard at work planning ahead” when the White House called.

Wood, 39, declined to say what his priorities would be for the natural gas and electricity markets as chairman. “I want to consult with my colleagues first about this. It will be a team effort, not just a Pat Wood effort,” he said, adding that the Commission “will adopt a strategic plan” outlining its agenda at its first meeting in September.

He noted that he doesn’t anticipate that he will “vary broadly” from the priorities set by Hebert. “I think Curt has done a lot to set a good agenda” for the agency. He indicated, however, that he plans to focus more on market oversight and enforcement of both the gas and electric industries.

When asked if this meant that he didn’t think the Commission had been enforcing its regulations enough in the past, Wood responded, “I’ll hold judgment on that.”

A former Texas regulator, Wood is considered one of the new kids on the block at the agency, having sat on the Commission for less than three months. He was confirmed by the Senate in late May.

Wood was appointed by then-Gov. George W. Bush in 1995 to the Texas Public Utility Commission, where he served as chairman and spearheaded the restructuring of the Lone Star State’s electricity market. He also was a member of the Bush energy transition team.

Wood and his wife, Kathleen, have two sons, ages 2 and 10 months, and now live in northern Arlington, VA.

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