Updated: Trump names LaFleur as acting chair of FERC
- President Donald Trump named Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur as acting chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today, replacing Commissioner Norman Bay as the agency's head.
- While all current FERC members are Democrats, Bloomberg reports LaFleur is seen as more sympathetic to the industry. She previously served as executive vice president and acting CEO of National Grid USA.
- LaFleur is expected to serve as chair until Republicans can be nominated to the commission, Greenwire reports. There are currently three sitting regulators and two vacancies on the five-person commission.
Trump campaigned hard on lifting regulations and prioritizing energy production, and his decision to replace Bay as FERC chair could signal a less aggressive approach from the regulatory agency.
Media outlets had previously reported that Trump was considering LaFleur to replace Bay, but the news was not made public until today. LaFleur will serve as chair only temporarily until the new administration can fill two vacancies on the panel.
Though FERC is not traditionally partisan, the president may appoint members of his party to serve in three of the five seats. Trump will have the opportunity to replace Commissioner Colette Honorable, a Democrat, when her term expires in June of this year.
Critics fear LaFleur, who previously headed a utility supplying energy to 3.4 million customers, will be prone too lax on big energy companies. Chairman Bay's tenure, Bloomberg notes, have been marked by efforts to more closely regulate power and gas trading in the U.S.
Consumer advocate Public Citizen told Bloomberg the group has "significant concerns," with the group's energy head saying LaFleur is "on the side of the generators and the transmission owners instead of consumers.”
LaFleur has recently split with her fellow commissioners on the subject of energy storage, arguing in a dissent that a January decision to uphold concurrent cost recovery for storage resources may be based on unfounded pricing assumptions.
In November, Clark joined Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP as a senior advisor to the Washington-based energy firm. Moeller went to the Edison Electric Institute to advise on energy policy.
This post has been updated to reflect that Trump has named LaFleur as acting chair of FERC. A previous version referred to unverified sources in other media reports who said the move was imminent.
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