- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Tony Clark has told EnergyWire that he will not seek reappointment when his term ends in June, raising the possibility that the five-member body will operate with just three members, all Democratic.
- Clark said the commission could function with just three members, even as work increases related to the Clean Power Plan, but added "it helps, from a commission credibility standpoint, to have a bipartisan commission."
- Clark's decision followed former Commissioner Philip Moeller's departure in October. He left FERC to work with the Edison Electric Institute.
FERC could be operating as a three-member, single-party regulatory body if the Obama administration does not nominate someone to fill Moeller's position before Clark's departure. Though he told EnergyWire that, "I don't have any intention to go anytime in the immediate future, and to the degree I have the ability to stay on, I intend to."
Clark has been a vocal skeptic of the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, which aims for a 32% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. According to Clark, that timeline is too quick and could threaten reliability. In 2014 he advocated for FERC to have a role in ensuring the regulations did not challenge grid reliability.
"There's got to be somebody who takes a look at it from the 20,000-foot level and can say, 'Wait a second, what you're telling these utilities to do over here doesn't work over there, and it's going to cause reliability problems,'" he said.
With regards to the CPP, Clark expects states will draft state implementation plans, even those currently pursuing litigation but worries states might take too narrow a view without realizing that the grid "doesn't recognize political lines."
When news of Moeller's departure broke last year, there were reports that Pat McCormick III, Republican chief council to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was the commissioner's likely replacement. That appeared to fall apart in October, and now a replacement candidate is uncertain.