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FERC chair does not expect to need more time to act on DOE NOPR

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Kevin McIntyre does not expect to have to ask U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry for more time to act on DOE's proposal for shoring up financially struggling coal-fired generation and nuclear units, he told reporters following the commission's Dec. 21 open meeting.

"I don’t envision going back and asking for more time, whether we'll need until the 10th [of January] — hard to say, I hope not," McIntyre said of the agency's newest deadline to act on the proposed rule.

Shortly after McIntyre was sworn in on Dec. 7, McIntyre convinced Perry to extend a Dec. 11 deadline for FERC to act on a notice of proposed rulemaking. The proposal would establish new market rules providing full cost recovery and a return on investment to generators that stockpile a 90-day fuel supply, are not subject to cost-based rate recovery, and operate in regions with organized energy and capacity markets.

"I arrived here I think less than 48 business hours before the then-deadline was to be upon us for an action and I didn't regard it as realistic at all for me to try to get something done in that kind of a quick fashion. I think it would of necessity be slapdashing and that's not my style and not what the process deserves," McIntyre said.

McIntyre said he has not talked with Perry about the NOPR since receiving the extension and does not expect to have to recuse himself from the rulemaking even though his past clients included FirstEnergy Corp. and Exelon Corp., two companies that own nuclear generation that could be impacted by the agency's decision.

"There are a lot of areas where I don't take a step around here without close consultation with a designated agency ethics official ... and this is among them. I would be sure that I would stay within the proper markers," the chairman stated.

McIntyre took over the gavel from Neil Chatterjee, a former energy staffer of fellow Kentuckian Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and who served as interim chair for roughly four months until McIntyre was finally seated.

During his tenure as chair Chatterjee said he hoped to find an immediate way to help the fossil fuel industry while more long-solutions are explored and said he was developing just such an interim proposal. With a nod to that stance, Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur during the lighthearted Dec. 21 FERC meeting said she had a Christmas present for Chatterjee and handed him a gift bag full of coal.

McIntyre tried to put to rest speculation as to why he was not seated until Dec. 7, which was more than a month after the Senate confirmed his nomination to join the agency.

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, I don’t have a tale of palace intrigue," he told reporters. "There really is no story here."

McIntyre said that unlike most of the other commissioners, he was in "private practice for 30 years representing companies mostly before this body," and extracting himself from all of those obligations and business relationships was a slow process. " Each of them took some time and had to be done with care and done properly to my responsibilities," he said.