Chairman of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to join Portland-based firm

WASHINGTON — Jon Wellinghoff, a Nevada lawyer and energy expert who is completing almost five years as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is poised to join a Portland-based law firm.

Stoel Rives LLP announced Monday that Wellinghoff will join the firm “upon completion of his service” at the agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, oil and natural gas. Wellinghoff submitted his resignation on May 28, but no date has been set for his departure.

Wellinghoff’s term expired in June but he agreed to remain as chairman until a new chairman was in place. The White House’s choice, Coloradan Ron Binz, withdrew last month after his nomination was opposed by Republicans including Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, and some Democrats from coal-producing states. A new nominee has not been named.

Stoel Rives is a business law firm with nearly 400 attorneys operating from 11 offices in seven states and Washington D.C. Wellinghoff will be based in the San Francisco office but will likely spend significant time in Washington, the firm said.

Wellinghoff joined FERC in 2006 as one of five commissioners, and was named chairman after the election of President Barack Obama and at the recommendation of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. As FERC chairman, Wellinghoff promoted policies that encouraged expanded use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

He grew up in Reno and earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. He specialized in energy law in the state for more than 30 years.

Wellinghoff by law must leave FERC by the end of this year’s congressional session, expected in December. Citing a partner at Rives Stoel, Congressional Quarterly reported Monday Wellinghoff may depart even sooner. A FERC spokeswoman said she could not comment.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at or 202-783-1760. Follow @STetreaultDC on Twitter