Wellinghoff to join energy practice at law firm of Stoel Rives

FERC chair Jon Wellinghoff will join the West Coast regional law firm of Stoel Rives upon completion of his service at FERC, the law firm announced Oct. 21.

Firm officials said Wellinghoff will bring a unique perspective to its existing energy practice.

“More than anyone else, he has had the opportunity to interact and talk with virtually every player of any consequence in the energy industry in the United States in the last several years,” Alan Merkle, chairman of Stoel Rives, told TransmissionHub Oct. 23. “He has a wealth of insight. None of the rest of us can say we’ve sat in the chair he has sat in.”

Wellinghoff will join the firm as a full partner and will be based in the firm’s offices in San Francisco, though he is expected to spend what Merkle described as “significant amounts of time” in its Washington, D.C. office, as well as the firm’s other offices.

In addition to San Francisco and Washington, the firm also has energy practice attorneys in Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, Salt Lake City, and Minneapolis in areas including energy transmission services, energy development, hydro power, and renewable energy, among others, according to its website.

Wellinghoff submitted his resignation from FERC on May 28 but no date has been announced for his departure. At the time of his resignation, Wellinghoff said he would continue to serve until a new chairman was confirmed, but the grace period for chairman and commissioners to stay in posts that have passed the end of their appointment ends when the Congressional session expires. His appointment officially expired June 30.

Wellinghoff will not be able to appear before FERC in an official capacity during a one-year “cooling off” period following his departure. He was not available for comment about the announcement.

Wellinghoff was appointed to FERC in 2006 by President George W. Bush, and appointed to chairmanship by President Barack Obama on Mar. 19, 2009.

A 1975 graduate of Washington, D.C.’s Antioch School of Law, Wellinghoff practiced law in Nevada for more than 30 years and specialized in the practice of energy law with a focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency. He was the primary author of Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), one of two state RPS programs to receive an “A” rating from the Union of Concerned Scientists, according to his biography on the FERC website.

Wellinghoff’s priorities at FERC included opening wholesale electric markets to renewable resources and providing a platform for participation of demand response and other distributed resources in wholesale electric markets, including energy efficiency and local storage systems, such as those in plug-in hybrid and all electric vehicles, according to FERC.

Originally published on Oct. 21, was updated Oct. 23 to include additional details and comments provided by Stoel Rives.