GOP energy commissioner to resign

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) member Philip Moeller is planning to resign.

Moeller, a Republican who was first nominated to FERC by President George W. Bush and started in 2006, said late Tuesday that he will stay on until a replacement is confirmed.

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“It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve on the commission every single day since I joined the commission in July 2006,” Moeller said in a statement.

“I send thanks to President Bush and President Obama for nominating me, as well as the members of the United States Senate who unanimously confirmed me to both terms.”

FERC has wide jurisdiction over interstate energy commerce and movements, including wholesale electricity markets, oil and natural gas pipelines and licensing hydroelectric projects.

Moeller’s resignation comes as FERC wrestles with whether and how it should step in to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed carbon limits for power plants do not interfere with electric reliability, which is one of FERC’s main responsibilities.

Moeller has been the most vocal opponent of the EPA’s rule at FERC.

He has warned that the rule poses a significant threat to electricity reliability because it would lead to large-scale shutdowns of coal-fired plants. Reliability is one of FERC’s main charges.

“EPA's proposed rule will dramatically interfere with America's competitive market forces, perhaps resulting in even more greenhouse gases in the future,” Moeller wrote to the EPA in December, adding that the rule “could total hundreds of billions of dollars.”

He told the House in July that the biggest problem with the rule “is that it treats states individually for compliance. But electricity markets are fundamentally interstate in nature … so that could create some challenges that may not be insurmountable, but need to be looked at very closely.”

Before coming to FERC, Moeller worked for electric utilities like Alliant Energy Corp. and Calpine Corp. Earlier, he was an aide to then-Sen. Slade Gorton (R-Wash.).

Since FERC has five members and no more than three may be from a particular political party, Obama will have to nominate a Republican to replace Moeller.