University of Montevallo alum Willie Phillips Jr. ’00 has been named chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by President Joe Biden, as announced by the White House on Feb. 9. He has served as acting chairman of FERC since Jan. 3, 2023, becoming the first Black person to lead the commission.
Phillips was previously nominated by Biden as a commissioner to the FERC in September 2021. He officially joined FERC in December 2021 when he was appointed by Biden and Congress approved.
“We are so proud that Willie Phillips has achieved this high, national position,” said Dr. John W. Stewart III, UM president. “He brings great honor and credit to our institution as an alum, but also as an individual of high integrity. I also personally know him to be a wonderful family man. We offer him our congratulations and know he will serve our country with distinction and efficacy. This is a historic moment during which President Biden appointed Willie as the first Black person to head the FERC. We are proud of all of our alums for their important contributions and accomplishments. This is indeed a special one.”
FERC is the independent U.S. federal agency that regulates the interstate transmission and sale of natural gas, oil, electricity and other energy projects to ensure that it’s safe, secure, reliable, economically efficient and reasonable. It also regulates the transportation of oil by pipeline in interstate commerce.
Phillips is an experienced regulatory attorney combining nearly 20 years of legal expertise as a utility regulator, in private practice and as in-house counsel. He has an extensive background in the areas of public utility regulation, bulk power system reliability and corporate governance.
As the youngest chairman of the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, the Fairhope, Alabama, native proved in his more than three years in the position – 2018 to 2021 – to be an innovative leader in modernizing the energy grid, implementing the District’s aggressive clean energy and climate goals to protect its customers.
Prior to the DCPSC, Phillips served as assistant general counsel for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, a not-for-profit international regulatory authority charged with ensuring the security and reliability of the bulk power system in the District of Columbia. He also worked for two law firms, where he advised clients on regulatory compliance, litigation and policy matters.
Phillips holds a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from UM, where he was SGA president, a Montevallo Master and president of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. In 2021, he served as the speaker at Fall Commencement. He earned a juris doctorate from Howard University School of Law in 2005.
He’s been married to his wife, Gabrielle, for more than 15 years. They have two children, Peyton and Tripp.