Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Neil Chatterjee congratulated President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on winning the presidential election, joining the growing list of Republican officials who have congratulated Biden on his victory.
President Donald Trump has yet to concede the race and is actively contesting the election results, though his claims of election fraud have been deemed invalid by major news organizations. As a result, many Republicans, including Chatterjee's former boss Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have yet to acknowledge Biden's win, which has yet to be certified because of ongoing disputes from the Trump administration.
Chatterjee's congratulatory statement follows his sudden demotion from chair to commissioner by the White House the week of the election. Despite his continued assertion that his actions on carbon pricing were the reasoning behind his demotion, Chatterjee thanked Trump during Thursday's open meeting for allowing him to lead FERC for two and a half years.
Chatterjee's acknowledgement of Biden's win is the latest affirmation that the now-commissioner of FERC wants to be seen as a moderate voice at the commission going forward.
Chatterjee has previously said that a Biden presidency would place him "squarely at the epicenter of the debate on the energy transition and climate change ... perfectly positioned in between a potential Biden administration and a Republican majority Senate." In an interview with Utility Dive a few weeks ago, he pointed out that he has consistently voted in the affirmative with colleagues on either side of the ideological spectrum over his past few years on the commission.
"The one common denominator ... is I've been in the majority on every vote," he said. "Sometimes that vote has been with different combinations of folks, and I think that just comes back to my belief in in being focused and achieving that consensus and trying to do what was right."
FERC is considered a critical agency in Biden's push for clean energy, particularly if the Senate retains its Republican majority.
FERC's sole Democratic voice Commissioner Richard Glick also congratulated President-elect Biden on the 306 electoral votes he received.
Chatterjee lost his chairmanship just before the election was called by the Associated Press in favor of Biden. While the White House has not released an official statement on the reason for Chatterjee's demotion, the former-chair and others have speculated that it was the result of FERC's action on carbon pricing in recent months under his leadership. He reiterated this view Thursday.
"I knew it might put me in a vulnerable position professionally. But I also knew it was the right thing to do. So I made the decision to face these complex issues head on," he said. "Although it may have cost me the gavel, I stand by my actions. Some might prefer to ignore the pressing questions of the day. But I believe we have to face them head on." Danly was the sole dissenting vote on FERC's carbon pricing policy statement.
Danly has defined his role as FERC chair as that of an "adjudicator," recently cancelling FERC media briefings as well as a roundtable discussion on electric vehicles that Chatterjee had implemented. Chair Danly is expected to lead a total of three FERC meetings, including one in January the day before the presidential inauguration.