Obama names energy board chief

President Obama named Cheryl LaFleur to be chairwoman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Friday, fulfilling a promise the White House made to the Senate.

In the same announcement, the FERC said Norman Bay will become its chairman April 15. Obama had wanted Bay to be chairman, but agreed to delay the move in exchange for his Senate confirmation.

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LaFleur became acting chairwoman in November after Jon Wellinghoff stepped down and left FERC.

“I am very honored to lead the commission at such an important time for the nation’s energy infrastructure and markets,” LaFleur said in a Friday statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the dedicated FERC staff.”

LaFleur came to the FERC in 2010, and was confirmed in July for a second four-year term.

The Senate confirms commissioners to the board, but the president has discretion over who leads it.

Obama nominated Bay to the board in January and said he would appoint him chairman. The move proved controversial to senators who thought Bay’s previous position leading the FERC’s enforcement office would make him too tough as a commissioner.

Just before the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee met in June to consider Bay’s nomination and LaFleur’s renomination, the White House agreed to make LaFleur chairwoman for nine months before switching Bay into the position.