U.S. FERC commissioner John Norris to leave energy regulator

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - John Norris, a commissioner with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said on Thursday he will resign almost three years before his term expires to take up a post with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“Earlier today, I submitted my letter of resignation from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to President Obama,” Norris said in a statement. Norris will leave on Aug. 20.

“It has been a great honor to serve with all the exceptional professionals and public servants who make up the FERC family and so many dedicated energy stakeholders in the public and private sectors,” Norris said.

FERC regulates elements of the U.S. natural gas, oil, electricity and hydropower industries, including the reliability of the electricity grid.

Norris, a former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, has been with the energy regulator since 2010 and was reconfirmed in 2012 to a term that expires in June 2017.

A native of Iowa and a former chief of state to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Norris will next serve as the minister-counselor for USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service in Rome.

The five-member commission will be deadlocked between two Democrats and two Republicans until Norris’ successor is in place.

Recent media reports have said that Colette Honorable, chairwoman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission and president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, will be chosen to fill the rest of Norris’ term.

Reporting by Ros Krasny; editing by Andrew Hay, Bernard Orr