By Rich Heidorn Jr.
FERC’s quorum was restored Thursday as former Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner Robert Powelson was sworn in, joining former Senate Republican aide Neil Chatterjee, whom President Trump named acting chairman.
The filling of the third seat allows FERC to issue rulings in contested cases, which had come to a standstill when former Chairman Norman Bay resigned in February after Trump named Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur acting chair.
Chatterjee will serve as acting chair pending the confirmation of Republican attorney Kevin McIntyre, whom Trump selected to hold the gavel and direct the commission staff. McIntyre and Democratic Senate aide Richard Glick are scheduled to have confirmation hearings before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Sept. 7.
“I want to thank Chairman LaFleur for the tremendous work she’s done in guiding the agency,” Chatterjee said in a statement. “The absence of a quorum was unprecedented, yet she rose to the challenge and created stability through her unwavering leadership.
“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.”
Chatterjee and Powelson were confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 3. Chatterjee was sworn in Aug. 8. (See FERC Quorum Restored as Powelson, Chatterjee Confirmed.)
The new commissioners were not immediately available for comment.
FERC also announced that it will resume its monthly open meeting schedule next month, with the first meeting set for Wednesday, Sept. 20.
With the quorum restored, Chatterjee said, the commission will soon begin notational votes on its backlog of dockets.
FERC staffers have been acting since Feb. 4. under limited delegated authority that allowed them to grant waivers and approve settlements in uncontested cases, as well as take interim action on rate filings, subject to refund pending further orders by the commission.
According to LaFleur, FERC has issued only a fraction of the 100 commission-authorized orders it averages a month.
The delegation period will end in two weeks following the restored quorum.