Colorado’s Binz Picked as Obama Nominee for FERC

Ron Binz, a former utility regulator from Colorado, is President Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The White House said in a statement today that Obama intends to nominate Binz, an advocate of clean-energy technologies who served as chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission from January 2007 until April 2011. He is now a consultant on energy and telecommunications issues.

If confirmed by the Senate, Binz would replace Jon Wellinghoff, the FERC chairman whose term expires in three days. Binz was chairman of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission from January 2007 until April 2011.

“In the energy area my focus is on climate, clean tech, integrated resource planning and smart grid,” Binz said on his LinkedIn page. He didn’t return e-mail and phone requests for comment today.

Binz would join an agency that in recent years has gained visibility from its policing of energy trading and efforts to secure the electricity distribution network from cyber attacks. Since January 2011, the FERC has disclosed 13 investigations of alleged market gaming, including probes of traders for Barclays Plc (BARC), Deutsche Bank AG and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM)

Wellinghoff, a FERC commissioner since 2006 and appointed chairman in 2009, has said he will stay in office until his successor is confirmed.

Consumer Advocates

Binz and Wellinghoff, 64, share several traits. Both are former consumer advocates from the Western U.S. who are proponents of clean-energy technologies.

Binz is now principal at Public Policy Consulting in Denver and a policy adviser for the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He has also served as chairman of the climate policy task force for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, which represents state agencies.

As a consultant, Binz’s clients included Tendril Networks Inc., a Boulder, Colorado-based energy management software company; Qwest Communications International Inc., now owned by CenturyLink Inc. (CTL) of Monroe, Louisiana; the New York-based Environmental Defense Fund; and the U.S. Department of Energy.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Wingfield in Washington at bwingfield3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jon Morgan at jmorgan97@bloomberg.net

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