John Norris confirmed to FERC

The U.S. Senate last week (on Christmas Eve) confirmed Iowa native John Norris as a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  Norris resigned as chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board about a year ago to follow his wife, Jackie Norris, to Washington.  Jackie Norris served as Michelle Obama’s chief of staff until this past summer.  (Jackie Norris had been Obama’s Iowa campaign manager for the general election.)

John Norris has a long history in Iowa politics, dating back to Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign in Iowa, as well as Tom Harkin’s 1992 presidential campaign.  John Norris worked for Congressman Leonard Boswell and for Tom Vilsack when Vilsack was Iowa’s governor.  Vilsack is now the nation’s Secretary of Agriculture and Norris has been serving as Vilsack’s chief of staff.  He’ll now leave that post to go to FERC.

Here are the statements FERC issued after the senate vote confirming Norris:

Chairman Wellinghoff:
“We at FERC are pleased and excited to welcome John Norris to the Commission, and we are looking forward to his tenure with us. John brings to FERC a wealth of experience, talent and knowledge that will help us to meet the challenges of providing reliable, efficient and sustainable energy for consumers.”

John Norris:
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and work toward ensuring open and fair energy markets in which consumers, retailers and wholesalers can have confidence. We face many challenges as we chart the course for America’s energy future. The FERC will play a critical role in meeting those challenges, including minimizing the impact changes will have on consumers, ensuring adequate investment in upgrading and building new infrastructure and meeting our nation’s goals for reducing CO2 emissions. “I am humbled by the trust and support I have received from President Obama, Senator Reid, Chairman Bingaman, Senator Murkowski and the Members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. I look forward to getting started and making myself accessible to all our citizens in carrying forth my duties and responsibilities to this great country.”

John Norris Biography:
John Norris is currently serving as Chief of Staff to Secretary Tom Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prior to joining the USDA, Norris served as Chairman of the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) from 2005 to 2009. As a member of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) he worked on the Electricity Committee and was Co-Chair of the 2009 National Electricity Delivery Forum. He served as a Board Member, Secretary and President of the Organization of Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) States as well as Chairman of the MISO Demand Response Working Group. He also was a member of the FERC/NARUC Demand Response Collaborative. Norris was on the Board of Directors of the National Regulatory Research Institute, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Iowa Power Fund and served on the Advisory Councils of the Iowa Energy Center, the Financial Research Institute for the University of Missouri College of Business and the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa. In 1999 and 2000 he was Chairman of the Iowa Electric Restructuring Task Force while serving as Chief of Staff for then Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. Norris also worked for U.S. Representative Leonard Boswell (IA-3rd) as Boswell’s Chief of Staff from 1997 to 1998. From 1989 to 2003 he owned and managed a restaurant in Greenfield, Iowa and he was State Director of the Iowa Farm Unity Coalition during the Farm Crisis of the 1980’s. Norris graduated with distinction from the College of Law at the University of Iowa in 1995 and received his undergraduate degree in 1981 from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. News Hound says

    John Norris is a political hack who proved during his term at IUB that he knows NOTHING about how to keep the lights on or act in the public interest. He will, therefore, fit right in with the rest of the idiot political appointees at FERC.