FERC chairman stepping down Sunday

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman (FERC) Jon Wellinghoff announced his resignation Thursday at a commission meeting. Wellinghoff, the longest-serving FERC chairman, announced he will leave his post on Sunday.

Wellinghoff first announced his decision to step down as the nation’s top electric grid regulator in May but was asked by the White House to stay until they found a replacement.

{mosads}He is credited with spearheading an expansion of the agency’s oversight of the electric grid and various investigations into questionable trading tactics by Wall Street banks.

Wellinghoff said President Obama plans to appoint Cheryl LaFleur as his replacement, FERC confirmed.

Obama intends to name LaFleur, a current commissioner for FERC, as acting chair upon Wellinghoff’s departure, a White House official said Thursday.

The administration wishes Wellinghoff the best of luck, the official added.

Stoel Rives LLP announced Wellinghoff’s plans to join the law firm in October. The law group specializes in energy, environment and natural resources litigation.

Wellinghoff’s decision to remain FERC chairman until the administration named a successor has drawn backlash from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.)

Barrasso sent a letter to Wellinghoff earlier this month, asking him to explain how he could stay with the agency when his future clients would be affected by his decision.

“This was the right decision,” Barrasso said in a statement Thursday after Wellinghoff announced his decision to resign.

“Chairman Wellinghoff should have left FERC as soon as he accepted his new job. His resignation will help restore the public’s confidence in the integrity of the Commission’s decisions and lift the cloud over the agency as a whole,” he added.

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