Friday, January 9, 2009

Kelliher to step down as FERC head with Obama inauguration

WASHINGTON - Joseph Kelliher will step down as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) effective Jan. 20, coinciding with the end of the Bush administration.
Kelliher, a Republican, initially will stay on as one of five commissioners "but will immediately begin to recuse himself from FERC business as he explores other career opportunities," said agency spokeswoman Mary O'Driscoll.
His decision to step down as chairman had been expected as President-elect Barack Obama is all but certain to select a Democrat to head the agency that oversees power grid reliability and wholesale natural gas markets.
President George W. Bush nominated Kelliher to the commission in 2003 and named him chairman two years later. Kelliher, as a senior Energy Department official, was a key participant in Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force that issued its report in 2000.
Internal documents, later released after lengthy legal fights, showed Kelliher, who had been the Energy Department's point man on the task force, was closely involved in soliciting energy industry advice as the Cheney report was being developed. Critics of the report said it depended too heavily on industry views and ignored environmental and consumer advocates.

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