Util­i­ties ex­pert will stay in D.C.

Ex-state of­fi­cial hired at le­gal firm

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - BUSINESS & FARM - ARKANSAS DEMO­CRAT-GAZETTE FRANK E. LOCKWOOD

WASH­ING­TON — An Arkansan who served on the Fed­eral En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion has joined one of the na­tion’s largest le­gal firms and will help bol­ster its en­ergy and nat­u­ral re­sources prac­tice.

Co­lette Hon­or­able, for­mer chair­man of the state Public Util­ity Com­mis­sion, is now a part­ner in the Wash­ing­ton of­fice of Reed Smith LLP. She’ll work with Regina Speed-Bost, a long­time en­ergy at­tor­ney who worked for the fed­eral com­mis­sion in the 1990s.

The le­gal firm’s en­ergy and nat­u­ral re­sources chair­man, Pra­jakt Sa­mant, an­nounced Mon­day that the two women will be lead­ing its work re­lated to the Fed­eral En­ergy Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion.

Reed Smith, which has of­fices in 27 cities around the world, em­ploys more than 1,700 at­tor­neys.

“Both Co­lette and Regina are renowned lead­ers in en­ergy reg­u­la­tory law; their com­ple­men­tary gov­ern­ment and pri­vate sec­tor per­spec­tives will pro­vide

our clients with one of most sig­nif­i­cant and game-chang­ing FERC prac­tices in the United States,” Sa­mant said in a writ­ten state­ment.

The fed­eral com­mis­sion reg­u­lates the na­tion’s nat­u­ral gas in­dus­try, hy­dropower plants and in­ter­state elec­tric trans­mis­sion.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama nom­i­nated Hon­or­able in 2014 to serve on the com­mis­sion. Her term ended June 30.

“Reed Smith was look­ing to ramp up their FERC ca­pa­bil­ity at the same time I was look­ing at next steps so, re­ally, the stars were aligned,” Hon­or­able said in an in­ter­view Mon­day.

The law firm was at­trac­tive, in part, be­cause it has a long­stand­ing com­mit­ment to di­ver­sity and in­clu­sion, she said.

“Reed Smith has very vi­brant and ro­bust affin­ity pro­grams,”

Hon­or­able said, cit­ing its work with women, blacks, Asians, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and the gay and trans­gen­der com­mu­nity. “I just felt at home.”

The firm’s en­ergy group is also top-notch, she said.

Along with Speed-Bost, Hon­or­able said her goal is to “co-lead and de­velop a world­class FERC ca­pa­bil­ity in the U.S. and … to con­tinue to work­ing on en­ergy pol­icy, do­mes­ti­cally and in­ter­na­tion­ally.”

Hon­or­able, a grad­u­ate of W.H. Bowen School of Law at the Uni­ver­sity of Arkansas at Lit­tle Rock, said she se­ri­ously con­sid­ered re­turn­ing home, but de­cided to re­main in Wash­ing­ton for her daugh­ter’s sake.

Syd­ney, 16, loves her new city, Hon­or­able said.

“With all she’s been through, los­ing her dad and my hus­band, I re­ally wanted to be open to do­ing what­ever was best for her, as a good mother should,” she said.

Rickey Earl Hon­or­able died just days af­ter his wife’s nom­i­na­tion was an­nounced. He was 46 and had urged his wife to take the job.

Though he had been ill, his death was un­ex­pected, she said.

While she dealt with the loss, the nom­i­na­tion process was placed on hold.

“I took two months off. I didn’t know what I would do af­ter he passed. It was such a shock. And then I de­cided I would go on,” she said.

Hon­or­able, who en­joyed the sup­port of U.S. Sen. John Booz­man and then-U.S. Sen. Blanche Lin­coln, was unan­i­mously con­firmed.

Her mother moved to Wash­ing­ton with her.

“We’re just a coura­geous group of three gen­er­a­tions of South­ern women, far­ing well,” Hon­or­able said.

Dur­ing her time on the com­mis­sion, Hon­or­able drew praise from some ob­servers.

Wil­liam Ho­gan, the Ray­mond

Plank pro­fes­sor of global en­ergy pol­icy at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity’s Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment, has de­scribed Hon­or­able as an ideal com­mis­sioner.

“She has an open mind and she looks at the ev­i­dence,” he said in an in­ter­view ear­lier this year. “[She’s] just what you want in a com­mis­sioner. She’s not an ide­o­logue, and that’s a good thing.”

In her new role, Hon­or­able said she’ll stay busy.

“I will be pro­vid­ing ad­vice and coun­sel and strate­gic as­sis­tance to ex­ist­ing clients and prospec­tive clients who are fo­cused on how to nav­i­gate and man­age our dy­namic and un­cer­tain times in the en­ergy sec­tor,” she said.

There’ll also be plenty of travel. This month, she’ll be speak­ing in Canada, Aus­tralia and San Diego, she said.

In her free time, she’ll be help­ing her daugh­ter learn to drive. “So I’ll have to stay prayed up,” she said.

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