Obama chooses Wellinghoff, currently acting chairman, to lead FERC

US President Barack H. Obama named Jon Wellinghoff, who has been acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as its chairman on Mar. 19. Obama also announced that he plans to appoint Suedeen G. Kelly to a second five-year term as a FERC commissioner.

Wellinghoff became FERC's acting chairman on Jan. 20 when the resignation of his predecessor, Joseph T. Kelliher, became effective. A member of the commission since 2006, the US Senate reconfirmed him to a full, five-year term in December 2007.

Prior to joining FERC, Wellinghoff had more than 30 years of experience in energy law, including two terms as Nevada's first public utilities consumer advocate. He earned his law degree from the Antioch School of Law in Washington and degrees in mathematics from Howard University and the University of Nevada.

Bert Kalisch, president of the American Public Gas Association, applauded Obama's decision. "Since his appointment to the commission in 2006, Chairman Wellinghoff has consistently and successfully demonstrated his recognition of the need to maintain a proper balance between competition and regulation," he said.

"He has also proven to be a champion of energy consumers, as illustrated by his support for legislation that would provide FERC with the authority to timely review and set just and reasonable pipeline rates for natural gas consumers," Kalisch said on Mar. 23.

Kelly, who joined FERC in 2003, was reconfirmed to a full five-year term in 2004. Before joining the commission, she was a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law and chaired the state's public service commission, which regulates utilities. She holds a law degree from Cornell University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Rochester.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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