Trump appoints Chatterjee as interim FERC chair

President Trump has appointed the recently confirmed commissioner Neil Chatterjee to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Chatterjee will head a commission which didn’t have a quorum until he and fellow appointee Robert Powelson were confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week. He replaces acting chair Cheryl LaFleur in that role.

“I want to thank Chairman LaFleur for the tremendous work she’s done in guiding the agency,” Chairman Chatterjee said. “The absence of a quorum was unprecedented, yet she rose to the challenge and created stability through her unwavering leadership.

Chatterjee, of Kentucky, was recently an energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., while Powelson serves on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and is president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

FERC’s inner turmoil began in February when then Chairman Norman Bay stepped down. In April, Obama appointee Colette Honorable said she would not seek another term. At one point, the commission had only one member.

The newly minted FERC has plenty of work ahead of it. More than a dozen major projects and utility mergers have been in regulatory limbo for months. The projects include the $2 billion Nexus pipeline in Ohio and Michigan; the $1 billion PennEast pipeline in Pennsylvania and New Jersey; and the $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.

Chatterjee expressed a desire to get FERC back at full speed dealing with the backlog. Trump has nominated energy lawyer Kevin McIntyre to eventually chair the commission if and when confirmed.

“I am honored that President Trump has designated me as Chairman of the Commission until Kevin McIntyre is confirmed, and I am eager to take on this responsibility,” Chatterjee said. “I look forward to working with Commissioner LaFleur and Commissioner Powelson on behalf of the American people. And I hope that we will have all five Commissioners here soon with the confirmation of Kevin McIntyre and Rich Glick.”

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