Outgoing chairman to join law firm

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Outgoing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff announced today that he will join Portland, Ore.-based law firm Stoel Rives LLP after he wraps up nearly seven years at the agency

Wellinghoff, a driving force behind the Obama administration’s efforts to green the electric grid, will work out of the firm’s offices in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., upon completing his work at the commission.

Stoel Rives is widely recognized for its energy law practice and has nearly 400 attorneys in 11 offices in seven states, according to the firm’s website. Clients include financial institutions, public and private utilities, energy and renewable energy companies, developers, manufacturers and retailers.

Wellinghoff, a former Nevada consumer advocate, announced his resignation from FERC in May, but it’s not yet clear when he will leave the agency (Greenwire, May 29).

Wellinghoff has said he will stay in his post until President Obama taps a replacement and secures Senate confirmation, a process that was complicated when Obama’s nominee, former Colorado regulator Ron Binz, asked earlier this month for his name to be removed from consideration.

Binz cited a deadlocked Senate panel and stiff opposition from right-wing groups that turned the confirmation process into a “blood sport” (Greenwire, Oct. 1). Sources have pointed to Colette Honorable, chairwoman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, and FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur as top contenders to either sit on the commission or lead the agency.

Wellinghoff first came to FERC to fill a vacant seat in 2006 with the backing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). He was reconfirmed in 2008 for a full five-year term as a commissioner, and Obama tapped him in March 2009 to become chairman, a step that didn’t require Senate confirmation. His current term expired June 30.

An energy law attorney with 37 years’ experience in regulatory, consumer and commercial law, Wellinghoff focused on matters related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and distributed generation in private practice before joining the commission.