Energy Secretary Perry grants FERC 30-day extension to craft coal, nuke bailout

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry granted Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Kevin McIntyre’s request a 30-day extension for the commission to act on the proposed “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule” just 24 hours after it was made.

The extension gives FERC until January 10 to create the rule requested by Perry in September. The proposed rule is widely seen as a giveaway to the nuclear and coal industries, and intends to subsidize failing fossil-fuel and nuclear plants under the pretense of their stored fuel.

With FERC swearing in several new commissioners in the past few weeks, including McIntyre, the new chairman asked Perry to extend the original deadline – today – so the new commissioners could evaluate both the proposal and the flood of of comments opposing the rule.

In his letter granting the extension, however, Perry requested again that FERC act in an expedited fashion to protect the United States fuel supply – a claim that a bipartisan group of eight former FERC commissioners, including five former chairs, have called absurd.

Perry also told FERC that he and the Department of Energy would be examining all options available to him beyond asking FERC to create the rule during the extension period under the Department of Energy Organization Act, the Federal Power Act and any other laws he can find that would allow him to bypass FERC approval.

Perry has faced opposition from a coalition of renewable energy and oil-and-gas trade organizations, who have argued the proposal would prevent the market from determining appropriate fuel prices. The groups have also expressed concern that the fast-tracked proposal hasn’t been well vetted by experts in the field.

Analysts suspect Perry feels the lack of vetting is a feature of his office’s proposal, not a bug.