Trump appoints Indian-American as US energy regulator head

Chatterjee, who is FERC Commissioner, would replace Kevin McIntyre as chairman of the prestigious agency.

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Washington: US President Donald Trump has designated prominent Indian-American lawyer Neil Chatterjee as Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The FERC is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. Chatterjee would replace Kevin McIntyre as chairman of the prestigious agency. McIntyre resigned on 22 October, citing health reasons.

McIntyre, who underwent surgery last year for brain cancer, will step down to become a commissioner on the five-member panel, he said in a letter posted on FERC’s website on Wednesday.

McIntyre, also a Republican, sat out FERC’s monthly open meeting last week and the previous one in September. “I very recently experienced a more serious health setback, leaving me currently unable to perform the duties of Chairman with the level of focus that the position demands,” McIntyre said in the letter.

Perry had issued FERC a directive in 2017 to bail out ageing nuclear and coal plants that are suffering competition from plants that burn abundant and cheap natural gas. FERC rejected the plan in January. But in coming months it could consider similar plans by the administration to support the plants for national security reasons.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump nominated the Republican Bernard McNamee, another prominent supporter of subsidizing ageing coal and nuclear plants, to a vacant seat on the panel.

The FERC is responsible for overseeing electricity markets and ensuring just and reasonable rates; approving applications for infrastructure projects; and playing a role in cyber security and defences. The agency has a very important role in policymaking.

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