Virginia SCC judge appointed to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, leaving seat vacant

State Corporation Commission Judge Mark Christie. (Photo by Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Democrats will get to fill yet another seat on the Virginia State Corporation Commission after the U.S. Senate on Monday evening confirmed Judge Mark Christie to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

The nomination of Christie, who has served on the SCC since 2004, has been in the works for months. The White House formally announced him as a candidate in July.

Current Commissioners Rich Glick and Neil Chatterjee swiftly issued congratulations to Christie and Allison Clements of Ohio, the second nominee confirmed to FERC Tuesday.

The question of who will fill his seat on the three-person SCC, a powerful body that oversees utility regulation, banking and insurance, is of particular interest as the body prepares to oversee the rollout of the Virginia Clean Economy Act, an ambitious plan to transition the state from fossil fuels to renewables. 

Under state law, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam has the authority to fill the vacant seat for a term that expires 30 days after the start of the next legislative session. With the 2021 General Assembly slated to start Jan. 13, that interim term would expire on Feb. 11 — the last day of the session, since Republicans have pledged to enforce a rarely exercised constitutional rule limiting the state’s biannual short sessions to no more than 30 days.

In 2020, Republicans blocked the confirmation of Commissioner Jehmal Hudson on the last day of the session, citing in part the last-minute nature of the vote. Hudson was appointed to the body by Northam in June.