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Without a quorum, US FERC cancels monthly open agenda meetings

Washington (Platts)--8 Feb 2017 522 pm EST/2222 GMT


The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has canceled its regular monthly open meetings until further notice because it lacks a quorum, the remaining sitting commissioners -- acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur and Commissioner Colette Honorable -- announced Wednesday.

The next agenda meeting, at which the commissioners typically consider, discuss and vote on a full slate of official orders, was scheduled to occur February 16.

FERC, for the first time in its history, finds itself without the minimum three commissioners needed to do the bulk of its major caseload. Norman Bay, who served as FERC chairman for nearly two years, abruptly left the commission, effective February 3, after President Donald Trump designated LaFleur acting chairman.

Related: Find more content about Trump's administration in our news and analysis feature.

The five-member commission normally has a majority of sitting commissioners, including the chairman, who are members of the president's party. The three open seats are expected to be filled by Republicans, as both LaFleur and Honorable are Democrats. But vetting prospective commissioners and moving them through the Senate nomination and confirmation procedures can take months.

Until the US Senate confirms the replacements, the commission will be unable to act on significant orders, petitions, rules and policy pronouncements. Some routine business can continue under authority delegated to office directors.

In the last few days before Bay left, the commission rushed out dozens of orders, including one clarifying the delegated authority that can be used by senior commission staff to process certain types of filings and orders.

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Numerous names have been floated regarding who Trump may nominate to bring the commission to full mast: Neil Chatterjee, long-time energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Crowell & Moring partner Richard Lehfeldt; Greenberg Traurig attorney and shareholder Kenneth Minesinger; Bracewell managing partner Mark Lewis; American Transmission Company General Counsel Bill Marsan; Montana Public Service Commission Vice Chairman Travis Kavulla and Janet Sena, senior vice president and director of policy and external affairs at North American Electric Reliability Corporation.

Unless otherwise announced, FERC will continue to hold previously scheduled meetings and events, including the joint meeting between FERC and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission February 23 and the upcoming Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 workshop March 30.

FERC also will continue to schedule future meetings, technical conferences and workshops as appropriate, the Wednesday announcement said.

--Chris Newkumet, chris.newkumet@spglobal.com

--Edited by Valarie Jackson, valarie.jackson@spglobal.com

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