On the same day he took his seat as chairman of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, former Jones Day attorney Kevin McIntyre sought a 30-day extension of the deadline for FERC to respond to the Department of Energy's notice of proposed rulemaking on grid resilience.
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"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 in a letter to energy secretary Rick Perry made public late Thursday.
McIntyre noted that two new commissioners had been sworn in over the last two weeks and that over 1,500 comments had been submitted to the agency on the proposal.
McIntyre was sworn in Thursday, over a month after he and Richard Glick, former senate energy and commerce committee minority general counsel, were confirmed by the Senate. Glick took his seat at the commission on November 29.
While the DOE's proposal set a 60-day deadline for FERC action, McIntyre said the law under which the DOE made the proposal, the DOE Organization Act, gives the secretary discretion on whether to alter deadlines.
"I respectfully request that you grant the proposed extension and arrange for publication of your decision in the Federal Register at the earliest possible opportunity," he said.
A DOE source said Perry has received the request and it is being reviewed.
Prior to McIntyre joining the commission, Neil Chatterjee, who served as chairman since early August, advocated for an interim step in response to the DOE proposal that would hold off coal and nuclear plant retirements while the commission hammered out a longer-term proposal to address challenges to baseload generation in wholesale power markets.
The notice of proposed rulemaking (RM18-1) sent to FERC late September sought immediate "action to ensure that the reliability and resiliency attributes of generation with on-site fuel supplies are fully valued," and called upon FERC to "exercise its authority to develop new market rules that will achieve this urgent objective."
As conceived by DOE, it would require independent system operators and regional transmission organizations to guarantee full cost recovery and a return on investment for generators that maintain 90-day on-site fuel supplies.
While supporters have argued such a plan is needed to prevent premature retirements of coal and nuclear generation that are important to reliability and resilience of the grid, the proposal united a wide range of energy sector interests who expressed concerns it would distort wholesale markets or force consumers to pay for uneconomic generating units.