President Joe Biden on Friday removed “acting” before FERC Chair Willie Phillips’ title, as Commissioner Allison Clements announced she would not seek a second term.
Phillips had been serving as “acting” chair since the start of 2023 after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) refused to hold hearings for the renomination of former Chair Richard Glick, who had to step down at the end of 2022.
“I’m honored to continue to lead FERC as chairman and thank [the president] for his faith in my leadership,” Phillips posted on X. “I’m laser focused on securing a reliable, affordable and sustainable energy future for our nation.”
The “acting” title did not functionally change Phillips’ job at the commission; it signaled that the White House had intended to replace him with a new commissioner. (See Phillips Addresses Acting Status as FERC Awaits Nominees.)
The announcement came the same day that POLITICO reported that Clements would not seek another term, which her office confirmed to RTO Insider. But it would not comment on what she intended to do after her term expires June 30; commissioners whose terms have expired without a replacement can stay at their posts until Congress adjourns at the end of the year.
The opening means the White House and Senate will have up to three new nominees to process. Glick’s seat has been open since his departure, and former Commissioner James Danly’s has been since the end of last year, as he also stayed past his own June 30 term expiration. (See Secretary Bose and Commissioner Danly Honored at Their Final FERC Meeting.)
Failing to move any nominees before Clements departs would leave FERC short of a quorum and unable to vote out orders, which happened early in former President Donald Trump’s term.
Before joining FERC in late 2021, Phillips was chair of the D.C. Public Service Commission. He previously worked as assistant general counsel at NERC. He earned his law degree from Howard University School of Law and his bachelor’s from the University of Montevallo.
Clements came to FERC in December 2020 after a range of experience in energy law in both the public and private sectors with stints at Energy Foundation, Good Grid and the Natural Resources Defense Council. She earned her law degree from the George Washington University Law School and her bachelor’s from the University of Michigan.
The news about Phillips’ title was applauded by many, with Manchin, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair, saying he looked forward to working with him on an “all-of-the-above energy policy.”
“Throughout the last year overseeing a very productive and bipartisan FERC, Chairman Willie Phillips has proven time and time again that he was the right person to lead this ever-important agency from the start,” Manchin said. “Amid the ongoing need to bolster our energy infrastructure, I have no doubt that Chairman Phillips will continue to lead FERC with his wealth of experience and consensus-building skills to the benefit of our country.”
Advanced Energy United Managing Director Caitlin Marquis also welcomed the news, noting it will allow Phillips to continue working on key issues like transmission planning.
“As FERC continues work on these issues and takes up additional priorities, Advanced Energy United asks that the Biden administration quickly nominate new commissioners eager to tackle the challenges and opportunities facing the electricity system, ensuring that FERC is wholly staffed and equipped to take on critical energy sector issues,” Marquis said.