Executive Insight, Generation, Natural Gas, Policy & Regulation, Renewable Energy, T&D, Transmission

Senators say outgoing FERC chair Wellinghoff worked to transform power grid

Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, worked to integrate renewable energy into the power grid and protect consumers from manipulation of energy markets, according to U.S. senators commenting on Wellinghoff’s planned departure.

Wellinghoff, who has served as FERC chairman since January 20, 2009, announced May 29, 2013 that he would step down as soon as a replacement is found and confirmed by the Senate.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Wellinghoff’s tenure at FERC will be remembered for helping to make the energy sector fairer and more sustainable.

“Under Chairman Wellinghoff’s leadership, FERC launched important investigations to protect consumers against traders and financial firms who manipulated energy markets.” Wyden said in a statement. “While we disagreed on electric transmission siting issues, he deserves credit for championing efforts to increase America’s renewable energy supply. His expertise and leadership will be missed.”

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Wellinghoff has a great mind for energy policy.

“Eight years ago, I recommended Jon Wellinghoff for a position on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). He has served with great distinction as a commissioner and later as its chairman. As one of the nation’s great minds on energy policy, Jon is leaving a legacy at FERC that will enhance energy efficiency, promote renewable energy, and improve the resiliency of the nation’s electricity grid. Jon’s efforts to support a cleaner and more secure energy future will be a tremendous benefit for Nevada and our nation for years to come,” Reid said in a statement.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said she hopes Wellinghoff’s successor will continue to be a watchdog over the energy sector.

“Chairman Wellinghoff brought real leadership and vision to the FERC,” Cantwell said in a statement. “He deserves tremendous credit for his efforts to protect consumers from unfair rates and market manipulators, to integrate renewable energy resources, and to transform the electric grid with 21st century technologies.

“I’m particularly pleased that the FERC is enforcing the prohibition on market manipulation that I pushed for after the West Coast electricity crisis and is going after energy market manipulators on Wall Street,” Cantwell said. “I hope the next FERC Chairman will continue Chairman Wellinghoff’s legacy of aggressively policing the natural gas and electricity markets with the great team he assembled.”

As of press time, there is no official word of who might replace Wellinghoff.

FERC is a federal agency with jurisdiction over wholesale electricity rates, electric transmission citing, the licensing of hydroelectric facilities, natural gas pricing and oil pipeline rates.

Wellinghoff’s official term expires June 30, 2013.