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On Tuesday, September 17, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will conduct a hearing to vet Ron Binz, President Obama’s nominee to become chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). FERC is responsible for regulating the inter-state electricity market.
Prior to his nomination, Binz spent four years (2007-2011) at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which regulates electric utilities within the state. This report reviews Binz’s record at his previous position as chairman of the Colorado PUC, in an effort to draw parallels to what Binz would likely seek to accomplish (or ignore) as Chairman of FERC.
Binz’s leadership of the Colorado PUC should worry all senators considering his nomination. In that role, he evinced a troubling willingness to push the boundaries of regulatory authority, in order to remake the utility industry so that it comports with his environmentalist viewpoint. He has, moreover, relegated cost and reliability to being secondary in priority relative to advancing green energy. Finally, Binz’s history of ethical lapses indicates that he is unfit to maintain FERC’s strict independence, as intended by the Congress.