President Obama has nominated Norman Bay to be the next Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Bay currently serves as FERC’s Director of Enforcement. Prior to joining FERC in 2009, Bay was a professor at the University of New Mexico’s law school and previously served as US Attorney for the District of New Mexico.
Under Bay, FERC Enforcement has aggressively pursued market manipulation in the electricity and natural gas markets as well as violations of the FERC’s regulations and policies, collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in civil penalties. We would expect that, if confirmed, Bay would continue to make enforcement a high priority.
Bay would succeed Cheryl LaFleur, the current interim Chair. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), a key Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, which must approve Bay’s nomination before a vote on the Senate floor, has already issued a statement noting that Bay’s nomination passed over the sitting FERC commissioners and Bay’s lack of experience as a commissioner at the state or federal level. Energy groups that opposed the nomination of Ron Binz, the former Colorado Public Utility Commission Chair who withdrew his candidacy last year, also have suggested they will look closely at Bay’s record. Those groups challenged Binz due to his environmental background.