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LaFleur Says FERC Powerless to Extend Deadline for DOE Grid Reliability Proposal

FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur said commissioners didn't believe they had the authority to extend the public comment period over the Department of Energy's (DOE) recent proposal to provide reliability and resiliency compensation to coal and nuclear baseload generators.

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected requests from the oil and gas industry and others, including environmental groups, to extend the deadline.

"The directive from the DOE set a 60-day deadline, and we interpreted that that was a binding deadline," LaFleur told NGI from the sidelines Tuesday of the Energy Bar Association's 2017 Mid-Year Energy Forum in Washington, DC. "So we ran our comments accordingly."

FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the conference's luncheon. LaFleur said she would be in the audience listening to Chatterjee's remarks, but would not be speaking.

In its notice, FERC denied several motions to extend the deadline over the proposal, reaffirming that comments are due by Oct. 23, and reply comments are due by Nov. 7 [RM18-1]. The Commission began accepting public comments over the proposal on Oct. 2.

A coalition of energy industry associations, including the American Petroleum Institute, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the Natural Gas Supply Association, on Oct. 3 submitted a joint motion to extend the deadline for submitting comments. The Independent Petroleum Association of America and several state-level oil and gas associations did likewise two days later.

Environmental groups, including Earthjustice, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club, had also supported extending the comment period.

Citing reliability and resiliency, DOE Secretary Rick Perry last month directed FERC to develop a proposed rule to allow cost-recovery for electric generating units that have a 90-day on-site supply of fuel. The move has been widely interpreted as favoring coal and nuclear power.

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