Trump appoints uncontroversial energy lawyer to head FERC

If there are two things that can be said of President Trump’s appointees, it is that that they are often ill-qualified for the positions that they are given, and that they attract opposition due to extreme and obvious political views.

Kevin McIntyre is an exception to both of these. A lawyer who heads the energy practice at Jones Day, he has worked on a number of cases before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), including those involving approval of gas pipelines and mergers and acquisitions. And while he is a member of the Republican Party, little has been published regarding his political and energy policy views.

This may be why Trump’s appointment of McIntyre to head FERC has seen little response from solar and clean advocates, including Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Advanced Energy Economy, the latter of which declined a pv magazine request for comment. Even Energy and Policy Institute, a watchdog group which is often a rich source of material on energy industry and utility connections to policies, politicians and regulators, had little to say.

Trump’s other choices for FERC have been more controversial, including Neil Chatterjee, who served as energy policy advisor to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). Chatterjee has drawn fire from environmentalists his push to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline and his public opposition to the Clean Power Plan.

So far both Chatterjee and Robert Powelson have been approved by the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but are awaiting a vote by the full Senate. If  Chatterjee, Powelson, McIntyre and fellow appointee Richard Glick are appointed and join Cheryl LaFleur, the last remaining commissioner at FERC, the body will be back to its full 5-member composition; if even two are appointed it will have a quorum and will be able to issue rulings.

Among the cases before it that relate to clean energy, perhaps none is as potentially significant as FERC’s AD-1620, which is often referred to in energy storage circles as simply the NOPR (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking). AD-1620 would require that grid operators across the nation align incentives with value, and design ancillary service markets for the participation of energy storage.

However, as of our last investigation into “the NOPR”, it appeared that FERC staff still had several more months of work before any rulings could be issued.

 

Correction: This article was corrected at 9:35 AM EST on July 18. An earlier version of this article named Robert Glick as a FERC appointee; his name is Richard Glick. This has been corrected and we regret the error.