Traditionally non-partisan FERC is politicized with 3-1 Republican majority

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Despite violating, in the words of Senator Joe Manchin, “proper decorum” and “simple civility,” the Senate confirmed James Danly as the third Republican on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Danly’s first nomination had been rejected earlier this year.

The Commission has traditionally been non-partisan, and traditionally, the party of the nominees are alternated — “pairing” the nominations. Legally, no more than three chairs can be held by one party.

Richard Glick is the one Democrat on the Commission. The FERC Chair is Neil Chatterjee, a former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The other Republican, Bernard McNamee, was deputy general counsel for energy policy at the Department of Energy.

Quoted in Natural Gas Intelligence, Senator Joe Manchin said, “By breaking the long-standing practice of pairing nominations and not sending the [Democratic] nomination, it undermines the structure…this has got to stop and both sides have to stand up and say, ‘Mr. President, this is a tradition. This is what we do.’ This is customary of what’s been done, and it gives us a five-member FERC, which is extremely important for our energy, our country, and the reliability that we depend on.”

Recent rulings by the regulatory body have sparked criticism that FERC is granting an advantage to fossil fuels over renewables.

  • FERC ruled that the PJM Interconnection region must implement a “Minimum Offer Price Rule” — creating a price floor, approximately 4¢/kWh, that negates the impact of state-level renewable energy programs.
  • FERC restricted NYISO’s storage and renewable incentives in its capacity markets. Acore, in a release: “FERC delivered a new subsidy to the fossil fuel industry today at the unfortunate expense of New York ratepayers.”
  • FERC has proposals to “modernize” the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act.