Nuclear, Policy & Regulation

Chatterjee: FERC Will Move Ahead with Coal, Nuclear Subsidies

By Editors of Power Engineering

Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said the agency will move forward with plans to subsidize coal and nuclear plants even though two newly-named commissioners are yet to be sworn in.

Speaking at an Energy Podium event sponsored by Platts, Chatterjee said he would like to institute an interim solution that would be linked to a longer-term analysis that will address concerns over grid resilience and baseload generation, Platts reported.

The interim move would be in place by December 11, which is the deadline Department of Energy head Rick Perry gave for his proposal to prop up coal and nuclear generation.

“We’re not going to ignore the deadline; we’re going to comply with our statutory obligation. So we’ve got to move forward,” Chatterjee said. “There can only be one chairman at a time and, until a new chairman is sworn into the commission and designated to serve as [chairman] by the president, I’ve got to continue. It’s my responsibility to continue to push forward on the work that’s before us.”

Chatterjee said the agency needs to develop a legal framework that would hold off loses of baseload generation that could not be recovered later, and that he would not support any interim action that only studies the issue.

“In my view, the worst outcome would be some kind of mealy-mouthed, doesn’t-accomplish-anything study that just further punts this down the road. That, to me, has no value,” he said. “We either have to solve it or end it.”

When Chatterjee was asked what he meant by end it, he said “send the market signal that these plants that are under pressure because of short-term market conditions are likely to retire.”