McIntyre Takes Reins as New Head of FERC

Kevin McIntyre was sworn in as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on December 7, just more than a month after his nomination to the post was approved by the Senate. He takes over from interim chair Neil Chatterjee, who will remain at FERC as a commissioner.

The agency that regulates transmission and wholesale sale of electricity, along with pipelines and other interstate energy commerce in the U.S., is back at its full complement of five members for the first time since October 2015. Chatterjee had served as acting chairman since August of this year. The previous FERC chairman, Norman Bay, resigned in February after President Trump named Cheryl LaFleur as acting chairman in January. LaFleur, who remained a FERC commissioner after Chatterjee took over as acting chair, is the lone FERC member appointed to the agency by President Barack Obama.

Kevin McIntyre, an attorney at Jones Day, the largest law firm in the U.S., takes over as chairman at FERC. Source: Senate Confirmation Hearings

Kevin McIntyre, an attorney at Jones Day, the largest law firm in the U.S., takes over as chairman at FERC. Source: Senate Confirmation Hearings

McIntyre, a Republican, has served as co-head of the global energy practice at Jones Day, the nation’s largest law firm. Jones Day also has served as President Trump’s legal counsel.

McIntyre takes his post just days before FERC is scheduled to take action on its notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) for the Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule, a measure to help power generators—primarily coal and nuclear plants—recover costs for their operations. The NOPR, which has been pushed by Rick Perry, head of the Trump administration’s Department of Energy (DOE), would allow “for the recovery of costs of fuel-secure generation units that make [the U.S. power grid] reliable and resilient,” according to Perry. The cost recovery plan would help subsidize power generating units that keep at least a 90-day supply of fuel onsite.

The proposed rule has been widely criticized by those who view it as a way to favor some forms of power generation over others in the U.S. energy market. Supporters say the rule would more properly value U.S. baseload electricity generation sources.

McIntyre has not publicly expressed an opinion on the NOPR. However, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate earlier this year, he said “FERC is not an entity whose role includes choosing fuels for the generation of electricity. FERC’s role, rather, is to ensure that the markets for the electricity generated by those facilities proceed in accordance with law.”

FERC’s membership now includes three Republicans—McIntyre, Chatterjee, and Robert Powelson—and two Democrats, LaFleur and Richard Glick.

Here is more coverage from POWER magazine on recent happenings at FERC:

FERC’s Chatterjee Has Interim Plan to Prop Up Coal, Nuclear Plants

What States Told FERC About the DOE’s Grid Resiliency Rule

Two Takes on Comments to FERC-DOE Resilence Proposal

Perry Hammered on FERC Order During House Subcommittee Hearing

Power Groups Unite to Block DOE Grid Resiliency Rule

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).