Wellinghoff Named Acting FERC Chairman

President Barack Obama has named Jon Wellinghoff Acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. See Obama Names an Acting FERC Chief. According to today’s FERC press release:

“Acting Chairman Wellinghoff responded that he looks forward to serving the President and the nation in this capacity.

I thank President Obama for the opportunity to lead FERC at a time when our nation faces the challenge of providing consumers with access to clean, renewable energy and ensuring that our nation can deliver that energy in the most efficient, smart and technologically sophisticated manner possible. I look forward to working with my FERC colleagues, FERC staff, the public and the energy industry to turn these energy challenges into a reality.

“Outgoing Chairman Joseph T. Kelliher offered his congratulations.

Jon has the intelligence, experience, judgment and independence to lead FERC as the agency discharges its historic responsibilities and confronts new challenges.”

Chairman Kelliher, whose term expires in 2012, previously indicated he will be seeking new employment, and announced he was stepping down on January 20, when the new President took office, and that he would recuse himself from FERC decisions. He has not yet left the Commission, and it later became clear he only stepped down as Chairman. See

While he remains a Commissioner, no new appointment to the Commission can be made by President Obama. (All sitting Commissioners were appointed by former President George W. Bush and for the moment they all are continuing in office). Thus, currently there is no vacancy for President Obama to fill with a new Chairman. President Obama’s action today simply replaced Kelliher with Wellinghoff designated as Acting Chairman.

The designation of Commissioner Wellinghoff as “Acting” Chairman does seem to suggest that President Obama may have in mind appointment of a new Chairman after Commissioner Kelliher leaves. See Will President Obama Repurpose FERC?

Update Jan. 26, 2009
See, A New Energy Regulator Takes the Helm, NY Times Green Inc. Blog.

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