The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced Jeff Wright, director of FERC's Office of Energy Projects, is retiring in February, to be succeeded by Deputy Director Ann Miles.
Wright, who joined the commission staff in 1979, became OEP director in 2009, succeeding Mark Robinson. Wright has been a member of the Office of Energy Projects since its creation in 2000. Over his 36 years at FERC, Wright has held a number of senior management positions.
In an appearance before Congress in 2013, Wright said, "Commission staff remains committed to exploring with project developers, its sister federal agencies, Indian tribes, the states, local government, and other stakeholders every avenue for the responsible development of our nation's hydropower potential."
Although the Office of Energy Projects oversees projects involving most energy technologies, as new OEP director, Miles brings a strong background in hydropower regulation to the office.
Prior to becoming OEP deputy director, Miles was director of OEP's Division of Hydropower Licensing, which is responsible for preparing environmental reviews of applications to construct and operate or relicense non-federal hydropower projects, including marine and hydrokinetic projects.
Thanks to new tax credits, grants and initiatives for incremental and small hydro, Miles noted in 2011 that FERC is seeing a growing number of proposals for new hydro projects. "Historically, most of our work has been relicensing," she said. "Now, over a third of our work is new construction."
Miles joined the commission staff in 1985. She has served in a number of managerial positions dealing primarily with licensing, compliance and administration of hydropower projects. She has a master's degree in resource management from the University of Maryland.
The commission also named the director of OEP's Division of Pipeline Certificates, Michael McGehee, to serve as acting deputy director of OEP.
OEP fosters economic and environmental benefits through the approval and oversight of hydroelectric and natural gas pipeline energy projects. The office focuses on: project siting and development; balancing environmental and other concerns; ensuring compliance; and safeguarding the public.
OEP consists of five divisions: Hydropower Licensing; Hydropower Administration & Compliance; Dam Safety & Inspections; Pipeline Certificates; and Gas-Environment & Engineering.