SolarCity taps ex-FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff as chief policy officer
- Former FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff has joined SolarCity, the leading residential solar company in the U.S., as their chief policy officer.
- Wellinghoff, the longest-serving chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), was most recently a partner at the Stoel Rives law firm, where he focused on energy law and the development of clean energy technology.
- Wellinghoff will replace John Stanton, who previously led the company's policy and markets team and helped recruit Wellinghoff, according to SolarCity.
Jon Wellinghoff's tenure at FERC was notable for his push to integrate more renewables and greater demand-side management onto the grid. Among other orders, Wellinghoff issued FERC Order 745, which sought to establish the Commission's authority to regulate demand response in wholesale markets. That order was recently challenged in the courts with the Surpreme Court upholding FERC's authority to regulate demand response (DR) programs in wholesale markets.
Now, his policy expertise in those areas will be leveraged by SolarCity as they seek "opportunities to collaborate and partner with utilities while ensuring that rooftop solar's full benefits to ratepayers and to the grid are considered and factored into all rate cases and resource discussions," SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said in a statement.
Wellinghoff praised the developer's push to advance rooftop solar.
"SolarCity has done more than any other organization to advance rooftop solar in the United States, and I can think of no greater opportunity to continue my work to unlock the potential benefit of distributed solar generation for all consumers in this country," he said in the statement.
Wellinghoff's move comes amid SolarCity's involvement in a few high-profile policy battles in states undergoing rooftop solar debates, including Nevada where the former FERC chairman served as general counsel at the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada from 1998 to 2000. SolarCity recently left the state after regulators' decision to roll back net metering rates.
The PUCN has been under fire since approving the controversial new net metering rates for rooftop solar users. The decision cut retail rate remuneration to the wholesale rate, increased fixed charges and, perhaps most notable, did not include a grandfathering clause to keep 17,000 existing solar users under the original rates, instead incorporating them onto the new rates and fixed fees.
SolarCity ceased operations in the state after the initial decision and was followed by fellow rooftop solar provider Sunrun. A group of rooftop solar customers has filed a class action lawsuit against NV Energy over the decision.
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