On January 23, 2009, President Obama named Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff as the acting Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”). When Commissioner Joseph T. Kelliher announced he was stepping down as Chairman in early January, Wellinghoff and the other Democrat on the Commission, Suedeen Kelly, were seen as the leading contenders for the position.

Wellinghoff joined FERC in 2006 and was reconfirmed for a full five-year term in 2007. The former attorney and Nevada consumer advocate has been a vocal supporter for the development of renewable resources. Wellinghoff has also promoted energy efficiency and better integration of renewable energy into the national grid.

Commissioner Kelliher has said he will recuse himself from FERC matters as he pursues other opportunities, but it is unclear when he will leave the Commission. Until Kelliher’s departure, President Obama will not be able to replace him with another Democrat to give the party a majority at the Commission as allowed under administrative rules.

The official news release is available at: http://ferc.gov/news/news-releases/2009/2009-1/01-23-09.asp.