Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg
Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Lacking Republicans, FERC Appointments Might Come Soon

Which law firms are likely to see one of their own on sitting on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the near future?

FERC is the independent federal agency that regulates interstate electricity transmission, natural gas and oil, hydropower projects and liquefied natural gas terminals.

It may not seem a likely priority for President-Elect Donald Trump at first blush. But with two of five positions vacant and all three sitting commissioners Democrats, the president-elect’s transition team may prioritize appointments at the agency, which require Senate confirmation. By tradition, the bipartisan agency has three commissioners from the President’s party and two from the opposing political party.

A few names are already being mentioned as potential commissioners. In no particular order, the names include:

• Kenneth Minesinger, shareholder and co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s global energy and infrastructure practice, according to one attorney who works in the field. Minesinger represents various clients, which include sovereigns, in the development of oil and gas resources.

• Patrick McCormick, the Republican special counsel on the Senate energy and natural resources committee, is another possibility, according to the same source. Previously, McCormick was a partner at Hunton & Williams and led the firm’s regulated markets and energy infrastructure practice.

• Bill Marsan, the executive vice-president, general counsel and corporate secretary of American Transmission Co. according to an article in the industry press E&E Publishing, as well the attorney who works in this field. Prior to joining ATC, Marsan was a partner in the energy and public law practice at Troutman Sanders LLP, his ATC bio said.

• Neil Chatterjee, senior policy advisor for Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, was cited by two attorneys who work in the field as well as E&E Publishing. Previously, he worked as a lobbyist for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

• Janet Sena, a senior vice-president and director of policy and external affairs at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, is also in the mix according to E&E Publising. She briefly lobbied for energy clients as a legislative consultant at Skadden Arps, according to her LinkedIn bio.

Traditionally, FERC commissioners come up from state commissions or the hill and it’s less common for commissioners to be selected from private practice, according to William Scherman, a Gibson Dunn partner who  previously served as general counsel and chief of staff at FERC.

Scherman said a new administration typically wouldn’t pick FERC commissioners until April or May, but that President-elect Donald Trump (R) may nominate one or two commissioners earlier because the commission is entirely Democrat right now.

“Historically, it’s very unusual for all the commissioners to be of one party,” Scherman said.

The commissioners currently serving are Norman Bay, currently also serving as chairman, Colette Honorable and Cheryl La Fleur. Bay’s term ends in June 30, 2018. Honorable’s term ends June 30, 2017 and LeFleur’s term does not expire until June 30, 2019.

FERC declined to comment for this story. Trump’s transition team did not return a request for an interview.