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InsideClimate News: Trump Demoted FERC Chairman Chatterjee After He Expressed Support for Carbon Pricing

Posted by Dan Gearino on Nov 6, 2020

InsideClimate News covered the Trump administration's decision to demote FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee, quoting AEE's Jeff Dennis. Read excerpts below and the full story here.

Neil Chatterjee abruptly lost his job as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday when, after two years of being a steadfast supporter of fossil fuel industries, he took a few steps that were more climate friendly.

The Trump administration demoted Chatterjee and elevated the other Republican commission member, James Danly, to become chairman...

Chatterjee was appointed to FERC in 2017 and briefly served as interim chairman that year before being named chairman for a second time in 2018. For most of that time, his record was reliably in line with fossil fuel interests, including rulings that undermined the effectiveness of state subsidies for clean energy.

But then Chatterjee supported two recent actions that earned him praise from climate and clean energy advocates:

In September, FERC approved Order 2222, which said that regional grid operators must open up their markets to distributed energy sources like rooftop solar and energy storage. The order, which clean energy advocates have called a landmark, makes it easier for groups of solar and storage owners to band together to sell some of their electricity to the grid, creating new sources of income.

In October, FERC approved a statement that encouraged states and regional grid operators to explore and consider the benefits of carbon pricing. Chatterjee praised the move at the time, saying, "Carbon pricing has emerged as an important, market-based tool that has wide support from across sectors."

Danly dissented in both votes...

Jeff Dennis, a former FERC staff member who is now general counsel for the trade group Advanced Energy Economy, was one of many close observers of FERC to be surprised by Chatterjee's demotion.

[Dennis] said the FERC actions that supposedly upset the Trump administration were about things that shouldn't be controversial.

"This is not a far-left climate issue," [Dennis] said, about expanding markets for clean energy in Order 2222. "This is a technology innovation and market competition issue. To have the White House view that as a bridge too far is surprising to me..."

Read the entire InsideClimate News piece here.

Topics: AEE In The News