The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) signaled last week that the part one of the first-ever Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) of the United States’s comprehensive energy strategy would come out by the end of April. This first installment will focus on transmission, storage and distribution issues impacting the electricity grid. While not publicly announced, it appears that the second part will focus on supply and end use of energy. The goal of these reports – and the QER writ large – is to identify trends, threats, and opportunities in the energy system and inform executive and legislative actions, including investment in research and development. It is no coincidence that both the Senate and House announced plans to introduce legislation to address the “energy infrastructure” issues associated with the first QER report.
Will the QER actually guide Congressional and Executive branch actions over the coming years? DOE believes it will. From the Department’s perspective, investments in transmission and distribution must be made rationally to support trends in the energy system, and to address new threats such as cyber security, climate change and broad technological changes. Critics point to Congress’s record of recent years to suggest that current politics do not lend themselves to successful legislating on such matters.
We at AEE see the glass as at least half full. While Congress has not been particularly productive, we have also seen heightened receptivity from both the Senate and the House to engage on grid modernization. AEE – and AEE member companies – have spent time in recent weeks engaging with various committees to share with them ways advanced energy technologies can support and improve a changing grid.
A 21st century electricity system is coming, and members on both side of the aisle understand that, and want to be a part of making that happen. The advanced energy industry – now bigger than the airline industry and equal to the pharmaceutical industry – has a big role to play.