Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard Glick on Nov. 18 pledged to continue working across partisan lines following the U.S. Senate's confirmation of Willie Phillips, U.S. President Joe Biden's pick to serve as the agency's fifth member.
Phillips, the current chairman of the District of Columbia Public Service Commission, will give Democrats a 3-2 majority at the agency as Glick seeks to advance a sweeping electric transmission rulemaking and revamp FERC's natural gas pipeline certificate policy.
But Glick dismissed the idea that Democrats on the five-member commission will forge ahead on top policy priorities without striving to reach consensus with their Republican colleagues.
"I've seen some articles suggesting that now we're going to have three Democrats ... on every order and split the two Republicans," Glick told reporters following the commission's Nov. 18 monthly open meeting. "I think that's not realistic."
Glick, a former U.S. Senate aide nominated by former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2017, repeatedly complained about a lack of communication with FERC's Republican majority early on during the administration.
"I thought, at certain times, that the commission was just having all of the Republicans get together and not even talking to the Democrats, and I don't think that's a healthy approach," Glick said. "I certainly don't expect or anticipate that we're going to do that, either.
Glick noted that Republican Commissioner Mark Christie, a former state regulator in Virginia, has already joined Glick and fellow Democratic Commissioner Allison Clements in issuing a number of significant orders. Glick also cited orders issued with the support of Commissioner James Danly, a Republican who has frequently dissented under the chairman's leadership.
"I intend to work in a bipartisan manner and not assume that because we have three Democrats, we're just going to roll the Republicans all the time," Glick said.
Once seated, Phillips is expected to break 2-2 deadlocks at the commission that have recently caused a proposed energy exchange market in the U.S. Southeast and a contested PJM Interconnection LLC capacity market overhaul to become effective by operation of law.
"It's certainly preferable, even I was on the losing side, to have a majority vote one way or the other," Glick said.
In some proceedings, recusal issues for Phillips could still prevent FERC from acting by the Federal Power Act's statutory deadlines due to 2-2 votes, causing rate filings to become automatically effective, Glick acknowledged.
"You don't always have five votes on everything, but most of the time we will and I'm looking forward to a situation where we won't have too many ties," the chairman said.