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Wellinghoff named SolarCity policy chief

SolarCity Corp.on April 7 said it has hired former FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff as its chief policyofficer, a position of increasing importance as the company fights to maintain regulationsthat paved the way for rapid industry expansion in recent years.

In particular, SolarCity and its competitors are facing pushbackfrom some utilities to net energy metering policies, which improve the economicsof residential solar installations by allowing customers to sell unused power fromtheir rooftop panels to utilities, often at retail prices.

"Decades before the electricity sector was seriously consideringa future distributed grid, Jon was implementing smart policies that would, in 2016,put us right on the cusp of the most exciting shifts that sector has ever seen,"SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said in a news release. "With Jon leading our policyefforts, SolarCity will seek opportunities to collaborate and partner with utilitieswhile ensuring that rooftop solar's full benefits to ratepayers and to the gridare considered and factored into all rate cases and resource discussions."

Wellinghoff also served as general counsel to the Public UtilitiesCommission of Nevada, as well as two terms as Nevada's first advocate for customersof public utilities. He most recently was a partner at Stoel Rives LLP.

"SolarCity has done more than any other organization toadvance rooftop solar in the United States, and I can think of no greater opportunityto continue my work to unlock the potential benefit of distributed solar generationfor all consumers in this country," Wellinghoff said in the news release.