Bay to appear at hearing on grid reliability under EPA carbon rules next week

Source: Katherine Ling, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 24, 2014

Norman Bay will fill a fifth seat when members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission testify before a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week, the committee confirmed yesterday.

The Senate approved Bay last week for a four-year term as a commissioner on FERC, but the White House has not sworn him in yet, which led to uncertainty about whether Bay would appear with four other FERC members for an Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on grid reliability under the proposed U.S. EPA regulations on carbon emissions for existing power plants set for Tuesday (E&E Daily, July 23).

Bay is making arrangements to be sworn in as a commissioner, but there is no timeline yet for when that will happen, Mary O’Driscoll, a FERC spokeswoman, said in an email.

“He has accepted the House Committee’s invitation to testify, and is pleased to appear before the Committee next week,” she said.

Charlotte Baker, a spokeswoman for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, confirmed yesterday evening that the committee is expecting Bay to testify.

If Bay does testify before he is sworn in, it will add yet another layer of intrigue to the events surrounding his nomination.

Bay had a rough confirmation process, as President Obama had nominated him not only to be a commissioner but also to be FERC chairman — which received considerable pushback from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, as well as many other Republicans and some Democrats.

The White House made a deal to answer concerns about Bay’s inexperience in energy policy and agreed to allow current acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur to remain at the agency’s helm for nine months if Bay were confirmed (E&ENews PM, July 15).

Murkowski remains displeased about the matter, noting that there are still several questions about Bay’s decisions as head of FERC’s Office of Enforcement and that the White House technically has the power to install whomever it chooses to be FERC chairman at any time.

In a statement early yesterday, Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Murkowski, questioned why Bay has not been sworn in yet, despite the fact that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) chose to vote on his nomination well ahead of other nominees who have been awaiting Senate approval longer. The reason, Dillon offered, could be a move by the White House to keep Bay from testifying at the Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing.