Friday, Jan. 23, 2009 | 4:16 p.m.
A Nevadan has been named acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
President Barack Obama today named Jon Wellinghoff acting chairman of the agency that oversees wholesale electric transactions and interstate electric transmission and gas transportation in the United States.
Wellinghoff, 59, is a front-runner to be nominated for the permanent position. His main competition appears to be fellow Commissioner Suedeen Kelly. John Norris, the current chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board, has also been discussed as a possibility to join FERC either as chairman or as a commissioner.
"I thank President Obama for the opportunity to lead FERC at a time when our nation faces the challenge of providing consumers with access to clean, renewable energy and ensuring that our nation can deliver that energy in the most efficient, smart and technologically sophisticated manner possible," Wellinghoff said in a statement.
A former consumer advocate and attorney who worked in renewable energy and efficiency fields, Wellinghoff is strongly aligned with Obama's energy agenda. He has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Nevada, Reno, and a law degree from the Antioch School of Law.
He was sworn in as a FERC commissioner by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2006 and was recently re-appointed to a second term.
Before joining FERC, he was in private practice and focused exclusively on client matters related to renewable energy, energy efficiency and distributed generation. While in the private sector, Commissioner Wellinghoff represented an array of clients from federal agencies, renewable developers, and large consumers of power to energy efficient product manufacturers and clean energy advocacy organizations.
Wellinghoff also was the primary author of the Nevada Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Act. The Nevada RPS is one of the two states to receive an “A” rating by the Union of Concerned Scientists. In addition, he worked with clients to develop renewable portfolio standards in six other states. He is considered an expert on the state renewable portfolio process and has lectured extensively on the subject in numerous forums including the Vermont Law School.
His experience also includes two terms as the State of Nevada’s first consumer advocate for customers of public utilities. While serving in that role, Wellinghoff represented Nevada’s utility consumers before the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, the FERC, and in appeals before the Nevada Supreme Court. While consumer advocate, he authored the first comprehensive state utility integrated planning statute. That statute has become a model for utility integrated planning processes across the country.