New FERC Chair McIntyre Seeks Delay on Grid Resiliency NOPR

Kevin McIntyre, freshly sworn in as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), has asked the Department of Energy (DOE) for a 30-day extension for the commission to act on the proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule.

FERC is required to take final action on Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s September 28-issued notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) within 60 days following publication in the Federal Register, which occurred on October 10. Under that timetable, FERC’s vote on the rule would be required by Monday, December 11.

In a letter dated December 7—the same day McIntyre was sworn in as FERC’s chair to replace interim chair Neil Chatterjee—McIntyre said that FERC had received more than 1,500 solicited comments and reply comments on the controversial NOPR. FERC had also sworn in two new members within the last two weeks, returning to its full complement of five members on Thursday for the first time since October 2015, he noted.

FERC’s membership now includes three Republicans—McIntyre, Chatterjee, and Robert Powelson—and two Democrats, Cheryl LaFleur and Richard Glick. Glick was sworn in on November 29.

“The proposed extension is critical to afford adequate time for the new Commissioners to consider the voluminous record and engage fully in deliberations,” McIntyre said.

McIntyre noted that Section 403 (b) of the DOE Act directs FERC to “take final action” on the energy secretary’s proposals within “such reasonable time limits as may be set by the Secretary.” The act does “not limit the means by which deadlines can be altered or amended but instead vests such determinations squarely in the discretion of the Secretary,” he wrote.

The DOE’s “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule” directs FERC—an independent regulatory government agency that is officially organized as part of the DOE—to exercise its authority under sections 205 and 206 of the Federal Power Act and require that independent system operators and regional transmission organizations “establish just and reasonable rates for wholesale electricity sales” for power plants that show “reliability and resiliency attributes.”

If the DOE grants the request, FERC’s final action would likely be revealed in mid-January.

—Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine)