The White House has signed off on paperwork needed for two additional US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members to be sworn in, moving the agency a step closer to having a full complement of commissioners as it weighs a contentious proposal intended to stave off coal and nuclear plant retirements.
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Kevin McIntyre, an attorney with Jones Day who was expected to be designated chairman, and Rich Glick, general counsel for the minority on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, were confirmed by the Senate on November 2 but have been waiting for paperwork to be signed before they could take their seats.
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President Donald Trump signed the paperwork Tuesday, according to Washington sources, allowing the swearing in to occur next week after McIntyre returns to Washington following the Thanksgiving holiday.
Neil Chatterjee, who has been chairman since August, has been pushing to meet a December 11 deadline for action on an energy market proposal pitched by the Department of Energy in September. The notice of proposed rulemaking calls for full cost recovery and a return on investment for generators with 90-day of onsite fuel supplies.
While the proposal was viewed by backers as providing needed lifeline to coal and nuclear plants that might otherwise retire prematurely, putting grid resilience at risk, it was met with intense opposition from a wide range of power sector stakeholders, many of whom argued it would distort wholesale electricity markets and prop up uneconomic plants.
The time taken to put the confirmed commissioners in place was fueling concerns about whether there would be a full panel at the commission to craft FERC's response to the DOE plan.
--Maya Weber, firstname.lastname@example.org
--Edited by Dan Lalor, email@example.com