Open Access:  Chairman Neil Chatterjee

Open Access: Chairman Neil Chatterjee

Mary O’Driscoll: Welcome to FERC’s Open
Access. I’m Mary O’Driscoll. Our guest today is Neil Chatterjee, the new
Chairman of FERC. Chairman, you’ve been here about a week,
having been nominated by President Trump in the spring and confirmed by the U.S. Senate
on August 4. Congratulations, and welcome. Neil Chatterjee: Thank you. It’s been a crazy week. Mary O’Driscoll: So, you’re chairman of
the Commission, now is this a temporary thing or what? Neil Chatterjee: I’m serving as chairman until
Kevin McIntyre is confirmed. I am excited about the opportunity and take
the responsibility seriously. I’m going to work hard, and I look forward
to working with my colleagues and the outstanding FERC staff through this transition. Mary O’Driscoll: So given that you have
the gavel until Kevin McIntyre is confirmed, what is your vision for FERC? Neil Chatterjee: Of course, my first priority
is to get started on the accumulated backlog. I heard about it all through the Senate confirmation
process. There’s a lot of consternation out there,
and I’m committed to working with them, my colleagues, to get after it right away. I’m also committed to the resilience and reliability
of our electric system. These are essential to national security. And to that end, I believe baseload power
should be recognized as an essential part of the fuel mix. I believe that generation, including our existing
coal and nuclear fleet, need to be properly compensated to recognize the value they provide
to the system. You know, I’m a Kentucky native. I’ve seen firsthand throughout my life how
important the contribution coal makes to an affordable and reliable electric system. Last year, coal provided over 80 percent,
80 percent, of the electricity in Kentucky. As a nation we need to ensure that coal, along
with gas and renewables, continues to be part of our diverse fuel mix. I’m also looking forward to following the
President’s charge to create jobs and stimulate economic growth through infrastructure. I believe working through the backlog, especially
evaluating the infrastructure projects before the Commission, really could help spur economic
development. I’ve been also fascinated by technology and
the innovation in the energy sector. I’m looking forward to exploring what opportunities
exist for these new technologies. And of course, electric reliability and cybersecurity
will always be a priority for me and for the Commission as a whole. Mary O’Driscoll: Both you and Commissioner
Rob Powelson are brand-new here, and you’re joining longtime Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur,
so now we finally have a quorum. So how do you expect your relationships to
be with your new colleagues? Neil Chatterjee: I am so looking forward to
working with them. Commissioner LaFleur has just done an amazing
job holding the Commission together through these quorum-less months. She’s really been the glue. We’ve known each other for a number of years,
we are both New England Patriots fans – or at least, I’m a Tom Brady fan – I know
she appreciates that. And beyond that, I really know that I’ll
profit from her knowledge and experience. Commissioner Powelson and I have also known
each other for a number of years and we’ve developed a real rapport, going through the
confirmation process together. It’s a unique experience, the Senate confirmation
process, and I can tell you, having survived it, thankfully, it will bond you together,
and Rob and I really formed that bond, and I think it’ll help us and the Commission in
the years ahead. Really, I think we all bring different strengths
to the Commission, and I’m confident we’ll be a great team. And I’m really looking forward to working
with this team. Mary O’Driscoll: OK, about that accumulated
backlog you mentioned earlier. How do you plan to attack that backlog of
orders that need votes by the Commission? Neil Chatterjee: So, I have to tell you, if
not for just the incredible work and commitment and dedication of Commissioner LaFleur and
the FERC staff, I would be really daunted and worried about the task ahead of us. But Commissioner LaFleur and the staff have
done so much of the groundwork in preparing for the return of a quorum that I feel very
confident that we’ll be able to work through it. I look forward to talking with my colleagues
and staff to triage the orders and start going through them. It’s going to take some time, but because
of all of the tremendous work that is already been done to date, we’ll work through them
as soon as we can. I think we’ll be able to achieve that. Mary O’Driscoll: Okay. Well, thank you so much for stopping by Open
Access. Neil Chatterjee: Thank you for having me. Craig Cano: FERC is an independent regulatory
agency that oversees the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil, review
of proposals to build interstate natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas terminals,
and licensing of nonfederal hydropower projects. FERC protects the reliability of the high-voltage
interstate transmission system through mandatory reliability standards and it monitors interstate
energy markets to ensure that everyone in those markets is playing by the rules. Unless otherwise noted, the views expressed
on these podcasts are personal views and do not necessarily express the views of individual
Commissioners or of the Commission as a whole. This podcast is a production of the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission, Office of External Affairs, Leonard Tao, director. We will be updating our posts when we’ve
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