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U.S. Senate Confirms Norman Bay and Cheryl LeFleur as FERC Commissioners

July 15, 2014 posted by Eric Christensen

The United States Senate today confirmed President Obama's nominations of Cheryl A. LeFleur and Norman Bay to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Commissioner LeFleur has served on the Commission since 2010 and the confirmation will allow her to serve a full five-year term. Mr. Bay will replace former Chairman Jon Wellinghoff. Mr. Bay has been the Director of FERC's Office of Enforcement since 2009. In that capacity, he was responsible for a substantial rise in that office's profile. For example, as a result of an Office of Enforcement investigation of market manipulation in the West, FERC last year sought nearly $500 million in penalties against Barclays Bank and certain of its power traders, and $410 million against JP Morgan. While President Obama's previous nomination of Ron Binz to replace Chairman Wellinghoff faltered amid nearly unprecedented political turmoil arising from critics of policies favoring renewable energy Mr. Binz espoused while serving on the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, Ms. LeFleur's nomination was never seriously challenged. She was confirmed today by a vote of 90-7. Mr. Bay's nomination, by contrast, produced considerable opposition, based largely on criticism of his activities as Director of the Office of Enforcement, although Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy Committee opposed his nomination on the ground that he lacks a deep background in energy matters. The level of controversy is reflected in the fact that Mr. Bay was confirmed today on a 52-45 vote. Although the details are not public, in a deal brokered by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Chair of the Senate Energy Committee, it appears that Commissioner LeFleur will be named Chair and will serve in that capacity for ninth months, at which time Commissioner Bay will assume the chairmanship. With a full slate of Commissioners now confirmed and the controversy engendered by the Binz and Bay nominations behind it, FERC can be expected to press forward with its agenda in September, after the Commission's traditional August recess. If you have any questions about FERC, the individual Commissioners, or other matters involving the energy or environmental law, please contact a member of GTH's Energy, Telecommunications, and Utilities or Environment & Natural Resources practice groups. We're proud that our partner Jim Waldo was recently named 2013 Lawyer of the Year for Energy and Natural Resources Law, and six practice members were recently recognized as Washington Super Lawyers.