Hydropower

U.S. Senate confirms McNamee to FERC by narrowest of margins

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Bernard L. McNamee to join the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, with a vote of 50:49.

The vote fell along party lines.

FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee congratulated McNamee on his confirmation. “I am pleased to welcome Bernie to the Commission and I look forward to working with him and my FERC colleagues on the important matters that are before the Commission,” he said. “Bernie’s knowledge and experience will serve the Commission well.”

His biography, posted on the FERC website at the time of his nomination, says McNamee served at the U.S. Department of Energy, as executive director of the Office of Policy and deputy general council for energy policy. He also practiced energy law, primarily representing electric and natural gas utilities before state public utility commissions. His biography makes no mention of any work with hydroelectric power.

He will serve the remainder of a term that expires June 30, 2020.

McNamee joins two Republicans and two Democrats at FERC.

McNamee has been another controversial nominee, with many saying his past support for fossil fuels may open the door for a coal bailout. Others said that his bias in favor of fossil fuels make it hard to believe he can be a fair arbiter on issues surrounding renewable energy.

However, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), said, “I believe McNamee understands FERC is an independent agency and must continue to be. I also expect him to be fuel-neutral and not a champion of one resource over another.”

In his confirmation hearing, McNamee said he would be fair, objective and impartial, basing his decisions on the law and facts.