Report Finds ‘Culture Of Reluctance’ During Wellinghoff’s FERC Tenure

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The Federal Electric Regulatory Commission (FERC) is coming under scrutiny from federal regulators for the way it handled sensitive information concerning the U.S. electric grid, specifically during the four-year tenure of Chairman Jon Wellinghoff.

The report, issued by the Department of Energy's Office of the Inspector General, found specific instances of breakdowns in FERC's internal processes – including the absence of any emails in Wellinghoff's email account.

‘The findings in the inspector general's report are deeply troubling,’ says Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The inspector general's report also uncovered glaring inconsistencies in the testimony provided by Wellinghoff, who served as chairman from 2009 to 2013, and other FERC officials, Murkowski says. For example, Chairman Wellinghoff disseminated information about purported physical security vulnerabilities of the U.S. power grid – assertions that FERC's own staff later discredited.

‘During Wellinghoff's tenure, there was a culture of reluctance to classify certain non-public documents. Additionally, it is concerning that Mr. Wellinghoff's emails during the relevant period apparently went missing,’ Murkowski says.

Murkowski will fully review the inspector general's recommendations, including potential legislative proposals to improve the way FERC handles sensitive information.

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