New York — US President Joe Biden has named Democrat Richard Glick to be chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, elevating a sitting commissioner who has been an outspoken advocate for a transition to cleaner energy sources and who has pushed for reforms to FERC's gas project certification process.
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Glick announced on Twitter early Jan. 21 he had been asked by Biden to be chair, and a spokesman for the commissioner confirmed that the Biden camp did not intend it as an interim designation.
"This is an important moment to make significant progress to a clean energy future," Glick said on Twitter. "I look forward to working with my colleagues to tackle the many changes ahead!"
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE: US energy policy
ADDITIONAL COVERAGE: Energy transition
Glick will join the commission at a time when Republicans hold a 3-2 majority, but as chairman he will have power to set the agenda, determining which orders come up for a vote.
Democrat Allison Clements and Republican Mark Christie recently joined the commission, giving it a full complement of five commissioners.
Democratic control of the US Senate improves the odds that Biden will be able to advance another Democrat to join the panel, likely replacing Republican Commissioner Neil Chatterjee, whose term runs out in June.
Glick joined FERC in November 2017, moving from a position as general counsel for Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. His background also includes stints in the private sector, with Iberdrola, PPM Energy and PacifiCorp. He also worked as a policy adviser for former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and as an aide to former Senator Dale Bumpers of Arkansas.
Glick has dissented on multiple natural gas project orders, at least in part, consistently arguing that FERC should further consider the impact of greenhouse gas emissions in making its decisions, and at times pushing for greater scrutiny to environmental impacts or whether project need was adequately demonstrated.
His assent to chairman is likely to elevate efforts to revamp the pipeline certificate process, but it may be months before FERC has a majority to make substantial changes.
Clements has already made clear she finds the current process "broken" and will back major changes as well.
In a joint concurring statement on an order involving the PennEast Pipeline Jan. 19, Glick and Clements said they believed "the Commission should end its current approach to issuing conditional [Natural Gas Act] Section 7 certificates".
Their concern related to a practice of issuing conditional certificates, which enable pipeline developers to use eminent domain, while some permits may still be outstanding, putting into question whether landowners might be affected while uncertainties remain about the future of a project.
Both Glick and Clements also spoke Jan. 19 about the need to elevate environmental justice issues in FERC's gas project reviews and bolster the scrutiny into whether projects are needed.
Power sector views
Glick has also been a vocal opponent of FERC's orders imposing market mechanisms that administratively raise the capacity market bids of resources receiving state subsidies in PJM Interconnection, ISO New England and New York Independent System Operator.
It is unclear whether the new Democratic chairman would have the votes to dismantle the current slate of market rules across the Eastern regional transmission organizations.
Glick has also stood as a contrary voice to the commission's plans to provide incentive-based rates for transmission projects based on their economic and reliability benefits, doing away with the commission's long-held policy of granting incentives focused on the risks and challenges that projects face.
On that effort, he expressed concern as to whether the proposed incentives "would actually incentivize anything" and whether they would be just and reasonable.
Glick also worried the incentives failed to recognize projects tied to states' decarbonization efforts and expressed opposition to doubling the incentive for remaining in an RTO.