December 8, 2017 / 1:43 PM / 8 months ago

New head of U.S. energy agency seeks delay of coal, nuclear rule

WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) - The new chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission late on Thursday requested a 30-day delay on a decision on a plan promoted by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to subsidize aging nuclear and coal-fired power plants.

Kevin McIntyre, a Republican, wrote a letter to Perry proposing to extend the deadline for a decision on the so-called Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule. Perry in September had issued FERC a directive to consider the rule and decide on it by Dec. 11. The plan would allow plants that maintain at least 90 days of fuel supply on site to recover their full costs through regulated power pricing.

FERC received more than 1,500 comments on the plan, many of them from groups representing natural gas drilling, wind and solar power, and consumers that slammed the plan. Grid operators also criticized the plan.

Murray Energy, a private coal company, has said that it and other coal producers and related industries are “threatened with bankruptcy and significant economic harm” if coal-fired power plants shut.

McIntyre said in the letter that an extension would “afford adequate time for the new commissioners to consider the voluminous record and engage fully in deliberations.” FERC only reached its full complement of five commissioners on Thursday with McIntyre’s swearing in. Another commissioner, Richard Glick, a Democrat, was sworn in on Nov. 29.

The Energy Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. (Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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