N.D. Commissioner Tony Clark reported nominee for FERC

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark is being nominated for an opening on a federal utility regulatory board that oversees the reliability of the nation’s electric grid, two people with knowledge of the pending nomination told The Associated Press on Jan.23.

The two Republicans said President Barack Obama will nominate Clark for a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission opening that is reserved for a Republican. They spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not yet been made.

The job requires Senate confirmation. The five-member FERC, which currently has one open seat reserved for a Republican, cannot have more than three Republican or Democratic members at any one time. It already has three Democrats.

Clark declined comment Monday. He is finishing his second six-year term on the North Dakota Public Service Commission this year, and has said he will not run for re-election.

It is uncertain whether Clark would have to resign before his term ends Dec. 31. FERC members are appointed to five-year terms. Should Clark leave early, another Republican, Gov. Jack Dalrymple, would have authority to appoint someone to complete Clark’s term.

The federal commission regulates interstate oil and gas pipelines, electric transmission lines and sales of natural gas and wholesale electric power. It oversees the reliability of the nation’s electric grid.

Clark, in an interview earlier this month about his possible appointment, said the agency’s work was similar to his job on North Dakota’s Public Service Commission. The PSC regulates electric and gas utilities and determines the siting of pipelines, coal mines and energy projects as part of its portfolio.

Clark, 40, is a former North Dakota Republican state lawmaker, labor commissioner and Tax Department aide. He was elected to the North Dakota PSC in 2000, and easily re-elected six years later.

He is a former president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, which represents state regulators across the country.