Judy Chang, a former Massachusetts undersecretary of energy and climate solutions, has emerged as a frontrunner for the open seat at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, three people familiar with the White House appointment process said.
Chang played a major role in setting energy policy under then-Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) from June 2020 through January. The Bay State is considered a leader in the clean energy transition, with a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and multiple offshore wind projects currently under development.
Prior to working for the state of Massachusetts, Chang was a principal at the Brattle Group, where she spent more than two decades researching renewable energy, electric power markets, FERC policies and other issues.
While working for the consulting firm, she prepared reports that explored how bolstering the transmission planning process could help accommodate the growth of solar, wind and other renewable energy projects. FERC is now looking at some of the same policy questions.
No final decisions have been made on the nomination, and the White House’s thinking could still change, according to the three people tracking the process. The people, including a lobbyist, were granted anonymity because the deliberations are not public.
The White House did not respond to a request to comment Thursday. Chang also did not respond to a request for comment.
Momentum toward a new FERC nominee appears to be picking up steam after the post has remained vacant since former Chair Richard Glick, a Democrat, stepped down in early January.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said during a nuclear briefing with the Third Way think tank Thursday that he had been conducting an interview with a potential nominee earlier in the day. He did not name the person, and Manchin’s office declined to comment on the candidate.
Manchin’s opposition last year to the renomination of Glick ultimately ended his tenure on the commission and dropped FERC to four commissioners — two Democrats and two Republicans.
Manchin voiced concerns about Glick’s position in support of additional greenhouse gas considerations for pipeline reviews, along with other concerns about Biden administration climate policies.
Those concerns have carried into the new year as Manchin has threatened to withhold support for Biden administration nominees he deems harmful to U.S. energy security. Such considerations have already tanked the nomination of Laura Daniel-Davis to serve as an assistant secretary at the Interior Department.
Reporters Kelsey Brugger and Emma Dumain contributed.
This story also appears in E&E Daily.