Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman Jon Wellinghoff has joined Stoel Rives as a partner, working out of the nearly 400 lawyer firm's offices in Washington and San Francisco.
The longest-serving chair in FERC history, Wellinghoff headed the agency from March 2009 until his departure in late November. His priorities included opening wholesale electric markets to renewable resources and promoting greater efficiency in the nation’s energy infrastructure.
On his watch, FERC cracked down on Wall Street banks, collecting a $410 million fine from JP Morgan Chase & Co. for manipulating energy markets, but clashed with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over jurisdiction.
Wellinghoff first announced his departure in May, but agreed to stay on until his replacement was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. That didn’t happen. Energy consultant Ron Binz, nominated by President Barack Obama in June to lead FERC, withdrew his name from consideration in October, telling Politico that his record was “spun and respun” to make him appear biased against fossil fuels and that his confirmation had become a “blood sport.”
Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur is serving as acting chairwoman of the agency.
Wellinghoff, who also served two terms as Nevada’s first consumer advocate for customers of public utilities, was originally appointed to FERC as a commissioner in 2006 by President George W. Bush.
As FERC chairman, Wellinghoff created the Office of Energy Policy and Innovation, which investigates and promotes new, efficient technologies and practices in the wholesale and interstate energy markets. He negotiated a memorandum of understanding between FERC and China’s National Energy Administration promoting communication and cooperation.
In an interview, he said he was drawn to Stoel Rives for its energy practice, citing the firm’s “depth and breadth of ability and experience in energy technology, including renewable energy, efficiency, response, and smart grid technology.”
Stoel Rives Chairman Alan Merkle in news release called Wellinghoff “an exceptional hire for Stoel Rives. Jon is one of the most prominent energy lawyers in the country with tremendous knowledge about the current state and future direction of energy nationally and internationally.”