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Falk 2012 Recipient


Wellinghoff to receive NEMA Falk Award

For new technologies to flourish in a regulated market, innovators need regulators who understand the value of innovation. This year’s Bernard H. Falk award winner, The Honorable Jon Wellinghoff, is such a visionary.

Jon Wellinghoff was named Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by President Obama in 2009. Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner since 2006, Chairman Wellinghoff has advanced the cause of innovation in the electrical sector and promoted Smart Grid through his bold leadership and commitment to open, competitive markets.

His achievements include opening wholesale electric markets to renewable resources and providing a platform for participation of demand response, energy storage, and energy efficiency. All of these technologies are key components of the Smart Grid.

“Unleashing information on energy and prices allows consumers to use their energy smartly," he said. “The first step is to give consumers access to the real costs of delivered energy—so that they're not in the dark."

FERC was given a critical role by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007with regard to Smart Grid standards. FERC’s responsibility is to adopt standards critical to ensure Smart Grid functionality and interoperability. FERC also established a rate policy for assurance of recovery of future Smart Grid costs.

While innovation is central to Chairman Wellinghoff’s vision, so is effective planning for the future of the nation’s electric grid.

FERC Order 1000, a hallmark of the Chairman’s tenure, encourages more comprehensive and more efficient transmission planning, as well as greater coordination within and among regions to ensure that FERC’s mission—that market rates, terms, and conditions are just, reasonable, and not unduly discriminatory or preferential—is carried out.

Under Chairman Wellinghoff, FERC is working more closely than ever with the Department of Energy on the triennial National Electric Transmission Congestion Studies. Also, FERC will provide greater input on the environmental analyses of any proposed National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors that may result from the studies.

Chairman Wellinghoff has empowered FERC’s 1,500 employees to support his mission. As Chairman, he created FERC’s Office of Energy Policy and Innovation, which is responsible for investigating and promoting new efficient technologies and practices in the energy sectors under FERC’s jurisdiction.

In 2009 and again in 2010, he welcomed NEMA into FERC headquarters to lead Smart Grid Technology Days to demonstrate to FERC staff our industry’s technologies that are revolutionizing the grid. Both events were a huge success.

“My staff and I talk with innovators in our industry to learn about the barriers to different types of innovation,” he said. “After that, I task them with their assignment and we work to figure out ways to break down those barriers so we can incorporate innovation into the system.”

After earning two degrees in mathematics and one in law, Chairman Wellinghoff spent 37 years as an energy attorney in regulatory, consumer, and commercial law. Prior to joining FERC, he was in private practice focusing exclusively on client matters related to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and distributed generation.

He served two terms as Nevada’s first Consumer Advocate for Customers of Public Utilities and he held staff positions in the U.S. Senate and at the Federal Trade Commission. He participates on numerous industry committees and has been a guest lecturer at universities around the U.S. that include the Vermont Law School; the University of California, Berkeley; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Princeton University; George Washington University; the University of San Diego; and the University of Oregon.

The Honorable Jon Wellinghoff has exemplified service and dedication to the electroindustry. He has earned his place on the distinguished list of Bernard H. Falk Award recipients.The full-lead crystal Excellencesculpture, a Baccarat Crystal piece designed by David Tisdale, will be presented to Chairman Wellinghoff.