On December 4, 2014, FERC Nominee Colette Honorable, who has been nominated to fill the vacancy left by former Commissioner John Norris, testified before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (“Committee”).  Currently, Ms. Honorable serves as the Chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

At the outset of the hearing, Ms. Honorable received praise from both Arkansas Senators in their opening remarks, and support from the Committee’s ranking member, Senator Lisa Murkowski, as well as Senator Joe Manchin.  Senator Murkowski stated that Ms. Honorable’s “experience at FERC will be an asset” and, if confirmed, she is counting on Ms. Honorable to “champion FERC’s role as the federal agency with responsibility for electric reliability.”  Senator Manchin referred to Ms. Honorable’s nomination as a “breath of fresh air.”

During the hearing, Ms. Honorable answered questions regarding liquefied natural gas (“LNG”) exports, fast-tracking transmission siting, grid security, FERC Order No. 1000 issues, new energy infrastructure, and hydropower rates.  Regarding Order No. 1000, Senator Ron Wyden questioned Ms. Honorable’s views on whether she supported keeping decision-making authority for the Pacific Northwest within the region.  While Ms. Honorable declined to comment on a currently-pending matter, she said that FERC should allow states and regions to make decisions based on what works best for them, but noted that she supported FERC intervention when necessary to ensure that wholesale rates remain just and reasonable.

With regard to LNG, Ms. Honorable stated that she generally supports exporting LNG and that the resource should be utilized, but not in a manner that harms domestic prices.  Ms. Honorable also stated that she does not believe that LNG exports would adversely impact the domestic market at this time.  On expediting transmission infrastructure, Ms. Honorable stated that she believes that more electric transmission is needed, and would be committed to providing an applicant for electric transmission with a timely and certain response.  Finally, when asked how she would maintain grid reliability as the EPA implemented its carbon emission rules, Ms. Honorable noted that she would continue to be a productive part to ensure reliability, supported any effort to gather stakeholders and would support a technical conference that would provide FERC guidance on the issue if Chairman Cheryl LaFleur convened one.

On December 11, 2014, the Committee voted to advance Ms. Honorable’s nomination before the full Senate.  An archived webcast of the hearing is available here.