Melanie Kenderdine, Director of the Office of Energy and Policy Analysis and Energy Counselor to the Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), joined advanced energy business leaders for a breakfast discussion hosted by AEE on March 19. Kenderdine shared insights around the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), a multi-year process that will offer a comprehensive outlook on both federal and state energy policy moving forward.
Early this year, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum establishing the QER Task Force. “Affordable, clean, and secure energy and energy services are essential for improving U.S. economic productivity, enhancing our quality of life, protecting the environment, and ensuring our Nation’s security,” Obama noted in the memo. “Achieving these goals requires a comprehensive and integrated energy strategy resulting from interagency dialogue and active engagement of external stakeholders.” The task force is co-chaired by John Holdren, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Dan Utech, Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change.
The first QER report, due January 31, 2015, will focus on transmission, storage, and distribution (TS&D). Kenderdine observed that critical infrastructure, such as highways, railroads, and canals, have played a major role in every phase of sustained American economic expansion. The many challenges to modernizing our energy infrastructure necessitate smart federal policy, she said.
Advanced energy has a critical role to play in meeting our infrastructure challenges and reducing infrastructure vulnerabilities. Kenderdine noted that weather related outages have increased from 5 to 20 each year in the mid-1990s to 50 to 100 per year in the last five years. A more resilient grid will help both lessen and adapt to this challenge. Superstorm Sandy highlighted challenges arising from our interdependent electric and fuel infrastructures. Then there are cyber-security threats to energy installations. A smarter, more secure grid can help address these issues as well.
Kenderdine also noted that the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) estimates that electric utilities will need to invest $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion in infrastructure by 2030. While federal policy will be critical to the infrastructure decisions made in our regulated energy market, we “can’t do anything without state and regional support,” Kenderdine said.
DOE expects to convene public stakeholder meetings beginning this spring and ongoing through the summer. Kenderdine encouraged businesses to reach out to key staffers in her policy office, including Karen Weyland, Deputy Director for State and Local Cooperation, who also attended the AEE breakfast event.
The event was part of AEE’s quarterly federal affairs breakfast series in Washington, DC. In November, AEE hosted Heather Zichal in one of her final appearances as President Obama’s Deputy Assistant for Energy and Climate Change.