In a four-part series recently published in Law360, Husch Blackwell’s energy regulatory group analyzed the significant aspects of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) most recent installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER). The first article focused on the QER’s discussion of the critical role that the nation’s electricity industry plays in supporting the country’s economy and national security. The second installment examined the QER’s emphasis on grid security. The third focused on opportunities that demand response and energy efficiency present for grid modernization.
Below is an excerpt from the fourth-and-final installment, focusing on generation development as a means to transform the nation’s electricity system, in which Husch Blackwell attorney and former FERC Chairman, James Hoecker, concludes the series with his insight and perspective on the QER and the valuable role is plays in helping shape energy policy in the United States:
Postlogue by Former FERC Chairman James J. Hoecker (From an article originally published on March 21 on Law360.com)
Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the myriad specific elements and recommendations in the two QER installments, the QER represents the most ambitious attempt in years to articulate a detailed and comprehensive energy policy for the nation.
Long ago, the DOE abandoned issuance of triennial energy policies under its original organization act. But energy policy is always important and, even in recent periods of domestic energy abundance, energy policy has proven to be a source of dispute, of competition among resource-rich versus resource-poor regions, and populous versus urban regions, and a subject of volatile partisan politics.
The DOE has multiple missions, including managing the production of nuclear weapons and clean-up of historical nuclear weapons programs, and pursuing basic science and research and development in both nuclear and a wide range of non-nuclear energy technologies.
For that reason, energy policy itself tends to get lost in the shuffle, and the influence on energy policy by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency has grown, each with a narrower perspective than DOE can provide.
Through the QER process, the Obama administration has made a legitimate and important effort to meet the need for policy leadership, organization of relevant data and constructive analysis. Secretary Moniz raised the bar in this area.