Trump's FERC Pick Joins Rest of Agency In Playing Down Grid Risk

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s choice to fill a vacancy on the nation’s top energy regulator joined the rest of his future colleagues in playing down the threat of a grid emergency.

“It does not appear at this point on a general nationwide basis that there is an emergency,” Bernard McNamee said when questioned at a confirmation hearing by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday. But he noted that he doesn’t have as much information on the matter as Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who has repeatedly said premature coal and nuclear retirements are a threat to the grid.

Earlier this year, all five members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission declined to endorse the notion that power grids face a national emergency, tacitly rebuffing the administration’s efforts to prop up struggling coal and nuclear plants.

McNamee, who directs the Energy Department’s Office of Policy, has come under fire from environmental groups for his involvement in Perry’s earlier ill-fated coal bailout plan. The commission shot down the proposal at the start of the year. He’s set to replace Rob Powelson, the most outspoken Republican critic of the bailout plan, who left the agency in August.

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