By the OGJ Online Staff
HOUSTON, Aug. 14, 2001 – Entergy Corp. said Curt L. Hebert Jr., who steps down as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the end of August, will join the New Orleans holding company as executive vice-president of external affairs Sept. 1.
Hebert, 38, will succeed Horace S. Webb, who will become CEO of the Entergy Charitable Foundation. As executive vice-president, Hebert will have responsibility for the corporation’s system and federal governmental affairs, system regulatory affairs, communications, and corporate contribution functions.
He will serve as a member of the Office of Chief Executive and will report to Entergy’s CEO, J. Wayne Leonard, the company said.
A native of Pascagoula, Miss., Hebert was nominated to a Republican seat on FERC by President Bill Clinton in 1997. President George W. Bush named him chairman Jan. 22. He also is a former chairman of the Mississippi Public Service Commission.
Hebert, who became a lightning rod with congressional Democrat’s and California Gov. Gray Davis over the agency’s handling of that state’s power crisis, submitted his resignation to Bush Aug. 6. Throughout his tenure, Hebert was a consistent advocate of competition and open markets.
Davis and California’s two Democratic, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, harshly criticized FERC and blamed Hebert for the agency’s failure to curtail power prices in the West and for its refusal to order billions of dollars in refunds for high-priced power in California.
Hebert argued price controls would inhibit power plant construction and he testified before congressional committees FERC has aggressively pursued refunds when evidence of price gouging has been found. In June, after Texan Pat Wood and another Bush nominee, Nora Brownell of Pennsylvania, joined the commission, FERC ordered price caps on electricity throughout the West.
Wood, named to FERC by Bush and formerly chairman of the Texas Public Utility Commission, is widely considered to be Hebert’s successor.
Before coming to FERC, Hebert was a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1987-1992. Leonard said Hebert’s expertise will be a “tremendous asset” as “we move forward on the path of industry restructuring.”
Under Hebert’s leadership, FERC last month ordered mediation talks to begin on formation of single regional transmission organizations serving the US Northeast and Southeast. The agency ordered Southwest Power Pool (SPP); Entergy; GridSouth, and Southern Co., Atlanta, Ga., to meet for 45 days on forming an RTO for the Southeast.
At that time a spokeswoman for Entergy said the company could not comment until it had seen the full order. Entergy owns 15,500 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
The commission has been active during Hebert’s service as a member and chairman in the restructuring of the electric utility and natural gas pipeline industries to promote competition.