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What we do In their own words

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In their own words

Here at FERC, we have a lot of different people doing many different things. We want to give you a "snapshot" of all the different roles people play, so we asked some FERC staff if they could give you a better idea of what they do every day. We hope you see that a lot of different types of work done by lots of talented people go into just one day of supporting FERC's mission.

IT Specialist
What is your title?
Director, Systems Engineering, OCIO

How long have you worked at FERC?
19 Years

Education and Professional Experiences that led you to FERC?
I have a B.S. in English and Spanish. I was a summer intern at the Washington Computer Center at the Department of Agriculture.

What are your primary responsibilities at FERC?
I Supervise OCIO IT Project Leads for projects that involve software development and I am the task manager for the Software Engineering Task of FERC's IT Support Contract with Veridian.

Describe a typical day.
A typical day involves planning and coordination meetings, a lot of communication (e-mail), and working with project leads, analysts, programmers, and FERC staff to deploy and support software applications.

Describe a challenge you had to deal with and what the outcome was.
My biggest work challenge has been changing from a technical support person (system programmer and DBA) to a project lead and then a manager. Sometimes I am not sure I am doing a good job but I feel like I'm improving slowly. I think patience and persistence are a couple key management skills.

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Attorney
What is your title?
Attorney, Office of General Counsel

How long have you worked at FERC?
6 months

Education and Professional Experiences that led you to FERC?
Education, I graduated from law school at the beginning of 2002 and decided to move to Washington D.C. from New York, New York. Previously I was working at a major news magazine while I went to Law School in a business management role for the magazine's internet site. I came to FERC because I became interested in Energy law and thought it sounded like an interesting area with a lot to learn about. I chose to work for the government because I knew FERC would give me more responsibility than I might have at a large private firm.

Describe a typical day.
I work 8:30 to 6:00 and during that time I read complaints and filings from various energy companies, work with people in other departments of FERC to decide what action to take on the complaints and filings, and write orders to be issued by the Commission. Describe a challenge you had to deal with and what the outcome was. Major challenges in my day to day work are time management in meeting deadlines and working with other people to get things done. Sometimes people are not cooperative and you have to do your best and work hard to get everyone to agree on a solution. Generally if you just tell people what you want them to do in a nice way they will help you out, but you have to be diplomatic. When working on several projects at once, it helps to keep a good calendar and a to do list on my desk so everyday I know what I need to get done in order to meet all my deadlines.

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Senior Counsel
What is your title?
Senior Counsel, Administrative Litigation

How long have you worked at FERC?
24 years

Education and Professional Experiences that led you to FERC?
I came to FERC right after law school because I wanted to work for a Federal agency and help protect the public. Although I studied French literature in college, I work with accountants, economists, and ratemaking experts, and I have to work with numbers and understand what these people say.

Describe a typical day.
In a "typical" day I may help my litigation team try to settle a case, edit legal documents written by the attorneys I supervise, research an important point of law, and work on administrative assignments, like hiring new employees or editing our budget requests.

What are your primary responsibilities at FERC?
A big part of my job is helping my attorneys and their witnesses get ready to negotiate with parties like electric utilities, state agencies, customers, generators, and power marketers. Often they are fighting about who has to pay the costs of getting electric power from a generator (where the power is made) to customers who will use or resell the power. Some of our cases are very important to making electric markets function properly; this allows customers to shop for cheaper power, and gives generators the right incentives to build power plants in places where they are needed. The issues can be very complicated, and the number of people we have to deal with can be very large. With lawyers, consultants, utility executives, and others attending, there can be anywhere from 6 to 150 people in the room. If we can't get parties to agree, we may have to go to hearing, which is basically a trial in front of a FERC Administrative Law Judge. It is very satisfying when we suggest a fair solution that no one else has thought of, and the parties accept it. This saves them the time and money it would have cost them to go to hearing. Often it lets them work out the details together in a way that works better than what would have come out of a hearing.

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Chief Judge
What is your title?
Chief Administrative Law Judge

How long have you worked at FERC?
28 years 2 months

Education and Professional Experiences that led you to FERC?
LLB Degree, 20 years experience as a trial attorney

What are your primary responsibilities at FERC?
I manage the Office of Administrative law Judges and am a member of the Senior Staff. I perform the functions of a trial Judge and mediator and decide cases.

Describe a typical day.
Assign cases, do administrative duties as a manager, consult with other senior staff members and the Chairman, hold hearings and conferences, mediate disputes between parties, etc.

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Civil Engineer
What is your title?
Deputy Director, Division of Dam Safety and Inspections, Office of Energy Projects

How long have you worked at FERC?
21 years

Education and Professional Experiences that led you to FERC?
I received a Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech and a Masters Degree in Environmental Engineering from Johns Hopkins Evening College. I spent 7 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as a Water Resources project engineer working on flood control projects and harbor protection and improvement projects.

What are your primary responsibilities at FERC?
There are approximately 2,600 dams across the United States that generate hydroelectric power. We make sure that the owners operate the dams safely for the millions of people that live downstream of the dams that could be hurt if the dams fail. We do this by inspecting dams and doing engineering analyses of the dams to make sure they are safe and will not fail.

Describe a typical day.
A major part of the day is spent working with the 5 Regional Offices FERC has located across the United States. The Regional Offices do most of the inspections and analyses. Here in the Washington Office, our staff of dam safety experts get involved with the more complex, state of the art problems and oversee the normal project workload. Some of our engineers are developing computer codes for analyzing dams.

Describe a challenge you had to deal with and what the outcome was.
A major dam was in danger of failing during an earthquake and was in urgent need of a stability improvement project. There was significant local opposition that threatened to delay the award of the construction contract because the lake would have to be lowered for 2 recreational seasons. The residents wanted to be absolutely sure that all possible alternatives were considered and that the work was necessary. We worked with the project owner, made sure our analysis was correct, prepared our presentation and met directly with the residents on several occasions to explain the reasons the repair was urgently needed. While the residents were not happy about it, the intensive coordination and open exchange of information allowed the contract to be awarded on time.

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Environmental Analyst
What is your title?
Environmental Analyst

How long have you worked at FERC?
4.5 years

Education and Professional Experiences that led you to FERC?
I received a Bachelors Degree in Natural Resources Management from University of Maryland, College Park

What are your primary responsibilities at FERC?
My primary responsibilities at FERC include conducting analyses of the impacts of proposed natural gas projects on the environment, including soils, geology, water resources, wildlife, vegetation, and land use.

Describe a typical day.
A typical day could include reviewing applications for proposed natural gas projects, preparing data requests for additional information, or preparing environmental documents such as EAs and EISs. A typical day could also consist of an inspection of a project area. Inspections of project areas occur prior to, during, and after construction.

Describe a challenge you had to deal with and what the outcome was.
A natural gas company proposed to construct and operate a compressor station near a school and residential area. The residents of the nearby communities and parents of the students were strongly opposed to the project, with concerns of safety, noise, and property value. There were only two alternative sites that would have met the project's requirements. Of the alternatives, one would have caused significantly more environmental disturbance, and the other was opposed by the residents in that vicinity. After much research and comparison, the environmental staff recommended the proposed site be approved by the Commission. The Commission granted the company a certificate to construct and operate the compressor station at the proposed site; however, the certificate included several conditions to minimize the impacts on the residents and students.

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Fishery Biologist
What is your title?
Fisheries Biologist

How long have you worked at FERC?
5 years

Education and Professional Experiences that led you to FERC?
My education includes a B.S. in fisheries science from Humboldt State University, CA and a M.S. in Fisheries Science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VPI&SU). Upon completion of my graduate work, I worked as a research associate at VPI&SU and the University of Georgia modeling and conducting fish entrainment studies at hydropower dams. Later I was hired as a FERC consultant to prepare environmental documents related to re-licensing of hydropower dams. In 1997, I became a full-time FERC employee.

What are your primary responsibilities at FERC?
My primary responsibilities at FERC include conducting analyses of the effects of hydropower projects on water quality and fisheries resources and making recommendations to the Commission on measures that could protect, mitigate, or enhance aquatic resources affected by FERC-licensed hydropower projects.

Describe a typical day.
On a typical day I prepare status reports for management on applications for hydroelectric projects; participate in public meetings to discuss the effects of FERC-licensed projects on aquatic resources; and review studies and prepare environmental reports that discuss the effects of hydropower projects on aquatic resources.

Describe a challenge you had to deal with and what the outcome was.
The biggest challenge I have had to deal with during my time at FERC includes re-licensing a 700 Megawatt project in less than 12 months and issuing a license amendment for a $100,000,000 fish passage in roughly 4 months. Both proceedings were completed within the targeted time frames.

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