New FERC chairman asks for extension on crafting nuke, coal bailout rule

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It didn’t take long for new Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Kevin McIntyre to have an impact on the controversial proposal to bail out nuclear and coal plants in the name of “fuel security”.

Within hours of being formally sworn in as chairman, replacing Interim Chairman Neil Chatterjee, McIntyre sent an urgent letter to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry asking for a 30-day extension on his request to come up with a new rule called the “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule”, which most industry observers insist is a thinly veiled attempt by the Trump Administration to bail out failing nuclear and coal plants by distorting markets with open-ended subsidies.

Perry initially instructed FERC – as is within his power – to have the new rule ready within 60 days of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) being published in the Federal Register, which occurred on October 10. If forced to adhere to that schedule, the new rule would have to be ready by tomorrow.

McIntyre, recognizing the impossibility of meeting the initial deadline, asked Perry for the extension. In the letter, McIntyre cited two reasons why Perry should grant the extension:

On October 2, 2017, in order to assemble a record by which to inform its deliberations, the Commission solicited comments and reply comments. To date, the Commission has received over 1,500 submissions. In addition, the Commission has sworn in two new members within the last two weeks. The proposed extension is critical to afford adequate time for the new Commissioners to consider the voluminous record and engage fully in deliberations.
At press time, it is not known whether or not Perry will grant the extension.
The proposed rulemaking, particularly given the attempted fast-tracking of it that has taken place, has raised red flags among a varied number of groups within the energy sector, including an odd alliance of renewable energy and oil and gas trade groups. It has also run into stiff opposition from a bipartisan group of eight former commissioners, including five chairs.