The Senate on Thursday afternoon approved the nominations of Kevin McIntyre and Richard Glick to serve on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Their approvals to the commission, by voice vote, give FERC its full slate of five members for the first time in two years. It comes at a crucial time for the board, which is considering a controversial proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to create new rules subsidizing coal and nuclear plants to value the “reliability and resiliency” they offer the electric grid.
McIntyre, a Republican former energy industry adviser, will take over as chairman from Neil Chatterjee. Chatterjee, a former staffer of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was also nominated by Trump and has served as chairman in a temporary capacity. He will remain on the board.
Glick was a Democratic attorney for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The other FERC members are Republican Rob Powelson, a former Pennsylvania energy regulator who joined the board this summer, and Cheryl LaFleur, a Democratic holdover from the Obama administration.
McIntyre and Glick, upon being sworn in, will join the board in time to consider Perry’s proposed rule. FERC, which is independent, must respond to the rule by Dec. 11.
McIntyre and Glick stressed in their September confirmation hearings that they would adhere to the commission's basic duties of approving and regulating the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil, without favoring one energy source over another.
"FERC does not pick fuels among different generating resources, so it's important it be open to the science and the characteristics of reliability and economics that are important to satisfying the energy needs of our nation," McIntyre testified in the Sept. 7 hearing.
Chatterjee, meanwhile, has expressed openness to adopting Perry’s proposal in some form.
LaFleur and Powelson have reacted more skeptically to Perry's plan, vowing to maintain the board’s independence.
Outside the coal and nuclear sectors, the broader energy industry has derided Perry's proposal for its potential to upset the last two decades of electricity generation, which have been marked by free competition and little intrusion by the federal government.
Chatterjee, in an interview Thursday with Kentucky reporters, acknowledged that some power customers would see larger electric bills if FERC adopts a rule to help coal and nuclear plants.
The extra money to keep coal burning "would come from customers in that region, who need the reliability," he said, according to the Courier Journal. "It's in these customers' interests to keep these plants open."