John Hairston was named the 16th administrator and CEO of BPA and the first person of color to lead the agency in its 84-year history, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Jan. 7. Hairston's ascent to administrator and CEO—after Elliot Mainzer departed to helm the California ISO—caps a 29-year career with the federal power marketing agency in which he's held a variety of positions across several departments. Hairston is viewed by the Northwest energy community as a well-known and trusted figure in public power with a deep knowledge of the issues facing the agency.
The U.S. Senate on Nov. 30 approved Allison Clements and Mark Christie for seats on FERC. Clements, a Democratic nominee, was sworn in Dec. 8, and Christie, a Republican nominee, took office Jan. 4. The confirmations bring FERC to its full complement of five commissioners. Clements, an attorney, served as energy markets director for the Energy Foundation and as corporate counsel for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Christie most recently chaired Virginia's State Corporation Commission.
President-elect Joe Biden on Dec. 17 announced senior members of his incoming administration's "climate team," including former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm for secretary of energy and Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) for Interior secretary. Granholm would be Biden's point person for carrying out energy research and development projects. Haaland would be in charge of expanding renewable-energy development on federal lands. She is a member of the Pueblo of Laguna and would be the first Native American Cabinet member.
A prohibition on sale of power-marketing administration transmission assets was among the provisions of the budget and pandemic relief package President Donald Trump signed Dec. 27. The legislation blocked funding for selling off assets of the Bonneville, Western Area and Southwestern power administrations.
Jim Litchfield, a major player in fish and power issues in the Columbia Basin for the past 40 years, has retired. He was the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's first power planning director and also worked to establish the Council's first Fish and Wildlife Program. For the past 28 years, Litchfield, aged 72, has consulted on fish and power issues ranging from the Columbia Basin's first Endangered Species Act listings for salmon in the early 1990s to current efforts to transition to clean energy.