Former FERC Chair Wellinghoff joins SolarCity as policy officer

Former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Jon Wellinghoff is joining SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) as the company’s Chief Policy Officer.

Wellinghoff will join SolarCity’s executive management team and will report to CEO Lyndon Rive. His responsibilities will include advising on federal and state policy for SolarCity and the overseeing of both regulatory and legislative affairs for the company, Solar City said April 7.

Wellinghoff was the longest serving chair in FERC’s history, serving in that role from 2009 to 2013.

During his FERC tenure, Wellinghoff led efforts to integrate solar and wind resources into wholesale electric markets and ensure that behind the meter customer-owned resources like demand response and distributed generation were given an opportunity to participate in those markets.

His efforts as chairman were affirmed by the recent U.S. Supreme Court (6-2) decision in FERC v. ESPA upholding FERC jurisdiction in its Order 745 to include customer demand response in wholesale electric markets, SolarCity said in a news release.

Wellinghoff is joining SolarCity at a time when rooftop installers of solar power and regulated utilities are debating various state rules over fee structure.

“Decades before the electricity sector was seriously considering a future distributed grid, Jon was implementing smart policies that would, in 2016, put us right on the cusp of the most exciting shifts that sector has ever seen,” said Rive. “With Jon leading our policy efforts, SolarCity will seek opportunities to collaborate and partner with utilities while ensuring that rooftop solar’s full benefits to ratepayers and to the grid are considered and factored into all rate cases and resource discussions.”

Wellinghoff also served as general counsel at the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (1998-2000), and served two terms as the State of Nevada’s first Advocate for Customers of Public Utilities.

After establishing SolarCity’s Policy and Electricity Markets team over the course of a distinguished, seven-year tenure at the company, John Stanton is departing to pursue other opportunities. Stanton helped recruit Wellinghoff, and will remain with SolarCity through this summer to ensure a smooth transition.

“John Stanton helped build SolarCity into what it is today, and he and his team helped lay the foundation for the rooftop solar industry’s phenomenal growth,” said Rive.

Stanton is a former executive vice president and general counsel for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), according to the SolarCity website.

Wellinghoff most recently served as Partner at the law firm Stoel Rives.

SolarCity was started by two brothers in 2006 and today is the largest solar provider in the United States with more than 10,000 employees. The chairman of SolarCity is Elon Musk, the billionaire investor behind companies like SpaceX and Tesla Motors.

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Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.