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FERC gets new Office of Energy Projects director

FERC promoted the deputy director of the Office of Energy Projects to replace Director Ann Miles on her retirement.

Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur announced this and other staff changes in a Feb. 1 statement after her appointment to serve as acting chairman and after former Chairman Norman Bay announced his resignation.

Terry Turpin, who serves as the deputy director of the Office of Energy Projects, has been named director, following the announced retirement of Miles, which takes effect on Feb. 18. John Wood will take Turpin's post as deputy director of the office. Wood currently serves as the director of the Division of Pipeline Certificates. The Office of Energy Projects oversees hydroelectric and natural gas pipeline projects and assists FERC commissioners in approving those that the commission determines are in the public interest.

Jamie Simler, who served as Bay's chief of staff, returned last month to her position as director of the Office of Energy Market Regulation. Steven Wellner has been named LaFleur's acting chief of staff after having served as a legal adviser for the acting chairman since April 2014, according to FERC.

Bay's departure will leave the commission with just two commissioners as of Feb. 3. Three commissioners are needed for the independent agency to establish a quorum to vote on orders, such as those to issue Natural Gas Act certificates for gas pipeline and LNG terminal projects. Much of the agency's business, including environmental reviews and construction authorizations of these projects, can continue without action from the commissioners.

Following Bay's announcement, LaFleur said FERC "is working to get as many orders out as we can in the time we have left with a quorum" and looking at ways to expand the authority delegated to staff.