The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was absent from the agency's monthly public meeting on Thursday as concerns mount about his health and future at the commission.
McIntyre has not appeared at an open meeting since July, when he injured his back and arm in a gym accident. The chairman has also battled brain cancer and had surgery to remove a tumor last year.
McIntyre did not vote on any items in the commission's agenda Thursday, though he did vote on items at last month's meeting despite being absent. A FERC spokesperson declined to comment, but Chief of Staff Anthony Pugliese told reporters the chairman will release a statement in the coming days.
McIntyre's absence at FERC's October meeting adds to concern in the power sector that the chairman could soon step down from his post due to health issues.
At the Thursday meeting, each commissioner wished McIntyre a speedy recovery, but none addressed the chairman's future at the commission.
The chairman hasn't been seen in public since FERC's July meeting, where he was unable to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance after a gym accident that fractured two of his vertebrae.
FERC would not comment on how the chairman's injuries affected his work, but industry sources close to the commission say he was absent from the office for long spells.
If McIntyre departs, FERC would be left with only three sitting regulators — two of them Democrats. This month, President Trump nominated Department of Energy official Bernard McNamee to fill a separate seat on the commission vacated by the departure of Commissioner Robert Powelson this summer.
During the open meeting Thursday, FERC approved new cybersecurity standards for companies in the electric utility supply chain and previewed the agency's 2018-19 Winter Market Assessment, the subject of a technical conference later in the day.
The commission also issued a ruling in a case regarding incentives for transmission builder ITC. In a 2-1 vote, FERC reduced the added return on equity incentive given to the transmission builder from 1% to 0.25%.
Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, a Democrat, said during the meeting that she voted for the order due to FERC's precedent of providing independent transmission providers added incentives to construct power lines. But both she and Commissioner Richard Glick, who dissented, called for a broader look at the agency's transmission incentive policy.
"Commissioners Chatterjee and LaFleur talked about the need, and I agree, the time has come for the commission to review policy on providing incentives to independent transmission companies, and other incentives as well," Glick said during the meeting. "I haven't seen much evidence to suggest independent transmission companies are more likely to invest in electric transmission than other companies."
In an emailed statement, ITC said it was disappointed in FERC's "failure to fully recognize our independence" and is reviewing options including filing for rehearing or mounting a legal challenge.
"Today’s order was characterized as a compromise solution and several of the commissioners spoke to the need for a broad review of all transmission incentives," a company spokesperson said. "Such a review will provide an opportunity for a more expansive review of this and other transmission incentives offered under FERC’s policy statement. ITC will advocate that any change to current policy should take into consideration previously approved incentives, which were relied upon by developers to construct facilities that provide ongoing benefits to customers.”
This post has been updated to correct a statement from ITC.