Energy review to focus on transmission, distribution — policy chief

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, January 24, 2014

The Energy Department plans to zero in on transmission and distribution infrastructure when it releases its much-anticipated Quadrennial Energy Review.

Melanie Kenderdine, head of DOE’s Office of Policy and a senior adviser to Secretary Ernest Moniz, said today that the agency is kicking off the policy report with a look at the connection between energy supplies with consumers.

“Our year one is going to focus on transmission and distribution,” Kenderdine said at a Washington, D.C., energy event. “We’re talking wires, pipes, increasingly rail — a new issue that we never dealt with when I was here before — and the ethanol biofuels distribution infrastructure, and import-export terminals,” among other things.

Moniz wasn’t particularly interested in an overly broad, comprehensive energy policy, she said. “Those are incredibly difficult to do, they tend to not be granular enough to get a lot of specific actionable items out of them, so we talked about narrowing the focus, what he would recommend to the president on the focus,” Kenderdine said.

Earlier this month, President Obama signed a memorandum directing agencies to get to work on the review, a four-year policy plan that is part of the broader climate change plan he announced in June.

Obama directed an interagency task force — led by the White House but with analytical support from DOE — to deliver the first report to him by Jan. 31, 2015, and he directed subsequent reports to be prepared for the president every four years thereafter. The first QER will focus on the development of a national strategy surrounding energy infrastructure.

Kenderdine said DOE sees transmission and distribution as “an appropriate place to start.” She added that future reports will likely look at supply-and-demand infrastructure and supply chains.

And she said to expect the report to focus on regions. “The secretary is very intent — thinks our energy issues are much more regionalized than national. That’s another difference in this versus a comprehensive energy plan,” she said.

Kenderdine said the agency plans to issue interim products before the January deadline. “It’s not just going to be one big study,” she said.