- Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Kevin McIntyre died on Wednesday, FERC confirmed on Thursday.
- McIntyre stepped down from the chairmanship in October, after missing two monthly FERC sessions for health reasons. As FERC chairman, he led FERC to unanimously reject the Trump administration's plan to support failing coal and nuclear plants.
- His death leads to another opening on the 5-member commission, following the December Senate confirmation of Bernard McNamee.
FERC’s rejection of coal and nuclear subsidies was only the beginning of the ground-breaking initiatives during McIntyre’s tenure as chairman. The independent regulatory body continued to address grid resilience through its docket, as McIntyre noted that resilience went beyond FERC-regulated power systems.
"Let's try not to get hung up in notions of bailouts of particular fuels — I don't think that advances the ball at all — but let's think deeply about the policies that are implicated by these questions,” McIntyre said during his keynote speech last February at a meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
Under his leadership, FERC unanimously approved a landmark order on energy storage, directing wholesale market operators to design rules to allow batteries to compete with traditional grid resources like peaking plants and transmission lines.
McIntyre and the commissioners intended to issue a similar order to create rules for how aggregations of distributed energy resources could participate in power markets, but they decided to focus on bolstering their understanding through a technical conference, extending the development of a FERC rule.
He also spearheaded several initiatives, such as a review of pipeline policy. McIntyre had ambitiously set a goal to wrap up this undertaking by the end of this year, but his successor, Chairman Neil Chatterjee, put the docket on hold as the commission awaited the confirmation of Bernard McNamee, set into motion by the sudden resignation of Commissioner Robert Powelson in August.
Many, including Energy Bar Association CEO Lisa Levine, issued condolences on Thursday:
It is with a heavy heart that we report FERC Commissioner Kevin J. McIntyre passed way last evening. Commissioner McIntyre was an active member of EBA having served in various volunteer and leadership positions. He was confirmed as FERC Chair, serving Nov 2017 to Nov 2018. pic.twitter.com/ti44qobmNo— Lisa Levine (@EnergyBarAssoc) January 3, 2019
FERC published their announcement on Thursday. No further details have been released.
The Senate confirmed McNamee, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Powelson, with a 50-49 party-line vote on Dec. 6. The process became increasingly heated ahead of the floor vote after video footage showed the former head of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Policy criticizing renewable energy and portraying environmental groups as tyrannical.
McNamee had helped roll out the plan that FERC unanimously rejected in January, and environmental groups requested that he recuse himself from the pending grid resilience proceeding, which McIntyre opened after rejecting the DOE proposal.
McNamee’s nomination moved quickly as Democrats had an advantage despite FERC’s partisan 2-2 split when McIntyre could not vote as a commissioner due to his health.
Democrats won in a 2-1 vote a rare battle over ISO-New England’s market rules at the start of December, accepting proposed rule changes to not allow fuel secure generators to set clearing prices.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated Commissioner McIntyre's age. He was 58.