- Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Richard Glick was be sworn in to his new role at the federal agency on Wednesday, FERC announced on Twitter.
- Glick, a Democrat, was confirmed to FERC alongside Republican energy lawyer Kevin McIntyre on Nov. 2. McIntyre — set to become chairman of the commission — was not sworn in Wednesday and FERC offered no explanation for the delay.
- The three-week wait for the new regulators to take their seats stoked some speculation that Acting Chairman Neil Chatterjee could be angling to keep the gavel until FERC issues a decision on a controversial coal and nuclear subsidy proposal next month. Chatterjee sought to dispel those rumors on Tuesday, telling reporters "there are no Machiavellian games here."
The weeks of waiting between confirmation and swearing-in ceremonies for McIntyre and Glick had a number of reporters and commentators wondering if there might be mischief afoot.
Rick Glick to be sworn in @FERC tomorrow, but not McIntyre and no word why. Let the conspiracy theories roll on. Perhaps waiting until after Dec. 11, deadline for FERC to act on DOE NOPR?— Glen Boshart (@glenbnews) November 28, 2017
Chatterjee, as the theories go, may have an incentive to try to hold onto the chairmanship while FERC considers a controversial proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants from the Department of Energy. Earlier this month, the acting chairman outlined an interim plan to support some of those plants while FERC further studies DOE proposal, and not swearing in the confirmed regulators could allow him more influence over the debate.
Chatterjee sought to turn back what he called those "conspiracy theories" on Tuesday, speaking to reporters after a forum hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance.
"I think you guys are reading way too much into the timing of what people's personal situations are on getting sworn in," Chatterjee said. "There are no Machiavellian games here."
FERC faces a Dec. 11 deadline to take action on the DOE proposal, and Chatterjee said he will likely have handed the gavel to McIntyre by then.
"That is not my intention or expectation," Chatterjee said when asked if he could still be chairman by the deadline, "but if there are circumstances outside of my control we will deal with it as it comes."
A FERC spokesperson offered no explanation for why Glick would be sworn in before McIntyre, but Chatterjee said it may have to do with the Thanksgiving holiday and transitional logistics, rather than a concerted effort to influence a policy outcome.
"I don't think there's anything to read into the timing except for it takes a while for the paperwork to get processed and people have to unwind from their existing jobs," Chatterjee said.
"There is no conspiracy. There is no there there," he added.
Neither incoming regulator has weighed in directly on the DOE proposal or Chatterjee's interim plan. However, in their confirmation hearings each regulator pledged to keep the commission independent and "fuel-neutral."
“The commission does not have the authority, nor should it, to prop up a failing technology,” said Glick, former counsel to Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
In an interview earlier this month, Chatterjee told Utility Dive he had not yet discussed his interim plan with the incoming regulators, but he expects they will have no problem evaluating it and the DOE proposal before the deadline next month.
"They’re not going to need a long lead time to get up to speed on this," he said.
This post has been updated to reflect that Commissioner Glick was sworn in Wednesday morning.