Vicky Bailey Event Summary

On March 16, the Wharton Undergraduate Energy Group had the privilege of hosting Vicky Bailey, who shared tales and nuggets of wisdom from her incredible career in both the private and public sectors of energy. Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the holder of a bachelor’s degree from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, Ms. Bailey began her career working out-of-state for a glass manufacturer. Upon returning to Indiana, she became aware of what was the Public Service Commission (and is now called the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission); she would serve as commissioner from 1986-1993 after being appointed by Governor Bob Ore. in 1993 President Bill Clinton chose her to be Commissioner of the Federal Regulatory Comission, a position which she held until 2000. Ms. Bailey described Order No. 888, 889 as the landmark decisions in her career as FERC Commissioner, which were effectively watersheds for the opening up of electricity markets. This was accomplished by the unbundling of transmission lines and removing barriers to entry. Before joining the Bush administration, she spent time in corporate America, joining Cinergy Corp., which is now Duke Energy, and PSI Energy, Inc.. Under President Bush, Ms. Bailey was the first person ever appointed to be Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy for both Policy and International Affairs. During that tenure, she had to respond to 9/11, which reinforced to her how interconnected/dependent the world is as well as the importance of energy and data security. Dealings with Brazil, Russia, India, and China cemented her belief in the effect of their energy demand on worldwide production, and indirectly general economic stimulation. Since her time spent in the federal government, she has held many positions including her membership on the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, her seat on the boards of Cheniere Energy and the Batelle Memorial Institute (which oversees the National Laboratories), as well as her appointment to the Presidential Commission for the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Given her lifetime of experience in energy, from both the public and private perspectives, I would recommend paying attention to these gems she left us with:

  • It is important to remember that in much of the world access to energy is not guaranteed. This has educational, technological, economic, and health impacts.
  • She believes in a diverse energy portfolio.
  • In her career and in many others, critical thinking and constant learning are key.
  • Ethics can’t be taught or bought, but they are important to know. It is also important to be authentic and true to yourself; it’s easy to get lost as to why decisions are being made in political and business environments.
  • Recommended reading: The Prize by Dan Yergin; Energy Primer, a staff document from FERC, World Energy Outlook from the IEA, and Lights Out by Ted Koppel
  • Relationships are important; every year, around Christmas, the Bailey FERC team goes to lunch.
  • “We have to be good stewards of the environment.”
  • “Public health and safety are key issues, they’re not going to go away.”