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Senate votes to restore FERC quorum by confirming Chatterjee, Powelson

Six months after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission lost the ability to rule on major energy infrastructure orders, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Republicans Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson and restore a working quorum at the agency.

The Senate on Aug. 3 voted by voice to confirm Chatterjee, energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Powelson, a member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.

FERC, which has five commissioners when full, has been without a three-member quorum since early February when former Chairman Norman Bay resigned. Former Commissioner Colette Honorable left the agency at the end of her term on June 30, leaving just Acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur on the panel.

The White House has also tapped Democrat Richard Glick to the commission and longtime energy lawyer Kevin McIntyre to serve as chairman, though the nominations were not moved to the Senate until Aug. 2. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the nominations Sept. 7.

Industry observers had said the White House's pick of a Democrat would help Chatterjee and Powelson get through the Senate, even if Glick were not confirmed as part of the same package.