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Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry has granted FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre's request for a one-month extension to study DOE's controversial notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR), despite the "urgency" of the proposal.
The NOPR, submitted by DOE to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Sept. 28, included a 60-day deadline for FERC action [RM18-1]. That deadline was set for Monday (Dec. 11).
"The better course would be for the Commission to adopt the proposal within this reasonable deadline," Perry wrote in a letter to McIntyre late Friday. "If the Commission fails to adopt the proposal within the original deadline for the reasons stated in the extension request, the security of our nation's electric grid will continue to be at risk...
"On the assumption that the Commission cannot act on the proposal within the 60-day deadline, I hereby grant the request for an extension of time for the Commission to deliberate and take final action on the Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule for an additional 30 days. The new deadline is Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018."
In the extension request sent to DOE Thursday, McIntyre said FERC had received more than 1,500 submissions from the public about the NOPR.
"In addition, the Commission has sworn in two new members within the last two weeks. The proposed extension is critical to afford adequate time for the new Commissioners to consider the voluminous record and engage fully in deliberations," McIntyre wrote.
The NOPR calls for FERC to impose rules on independent system operators and regional transmission organizations "to ensure that certain reliability and resilience attributes of electric generation resources are fully valued."
The rule would allow "for the recovery of costs of fuel-secure generation units that make our grid reliable and resilient," according to Perry. Eligible units would have to "be able to provide essential energy and ancillary reliability service and have a 90-day fuel supply on site in the event of supply disruptions caused by emergencies, extreme weather, or natural or man-made disasters."
Coal and some electricity organizations have shown support for the NOPR, while natural gas industry groups have vehemently opposed it. It has also been criticized by several former FERC commissioners and chairmen, and by members of a House Committee on Energy and Commerce subcommittee.
One recent analysis concluded that subsidies included in the NOPR would cost as much as $10.6 billion a year, with most of the funds going to a handful of coal and nuclear companies.