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story.lead_photo.caption Colette Honorable

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 world-class 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. B̶l̶a̶n̶c̶h̶e̶ ̶L̶i̶n̶c̶o̶l̶n* Mark Pryor, 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.

Business on 07/11/2017

*CORRECTION: Mark Pryor is the former U.S. senator who supported Colette Honorable’s 2014 nomination to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. A previous version of this story incorrectly credited another former lawmaker.

Print Headline: Utilities expert will stay in D.C.

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  • RBBrittain
    July 11, 2017 at 8:31 a.m.

    She was chairman of the Arkansas Public *Service* (not Utility) Commission. Though equivalent commissions in other states are often called "Public Utility Commissions", to my knowledge ours has never been called that.