On Friday, January 6, the Obama Administration released the second installment of the interagency Quadrennial Energy Review (QER 1.2), “Transforming the Nation’s Electricity System”. The new report focuses on the Nation’s electricity system, from electricity generation to end uses, and addresses the need for improvements in that system. Today, January 9, is the third anniversary of the Presidential Memorandum that initiated the QER. Since that time, the QER team has produced two landmark installments and made a significant impact on energy policy.
This second installment of the QER builds on QER 1.1 — “Energy Transmission, Storage, and Distribution Infrastructure”, which was released in April 2015. QER1.1 made 63 recommendations, which DOE and its partners have been actively implementing. As detailed in the recent “Report Card,” 29 of the recommendations have already been fully implemented and an additional 21 are currently underway. Many of the recommendations requiring legislative action have been taken up by Congress, with 21 of the legislative recommendations now fully or partially reflected in Federal law. DOE will work with Congress and other agencies to achieve similar positive impact based on the recommendations from QER1.2
Modernizing the Nation’s electricity system is a strategic imperative. Reliable and affordable electricity provides necessary energy services for consumers, business, and national defense and underpins virtually every sector of the modern U.S. economy. This first-of-its-kind review of the electricity system provides analysis-based recommendations on how the Federal Government can most effectively work with states, localities, industry, and other stakeholders to meet future electricity needs, fully realize America’s economic potential, and secure the United States as a global leader in clean-energy innovation.
Protect the Electricity System as a National Security Asset. The QER analyzes the interactions and interconnections that characterize the electricity system, as wells as the risks the system faces and concludes that the electricity system should be treated as a National security asset. The QER also provides recommendations to align investments and interests in support of the overarching National interest in electricity system security against threats both natural and manmade. The report recommends:
Maximize Economic Value and Consumer Equity. Consumer options for electricity services and energy efficiency have grown dramatically, enabled in part by the smart grid and the Internet of Things, and supported by significant consumer demand for a range of new services. Consumers can now both produce and consume power through distributed generation technologies and an advanced distribution infrastructure, a significant change in the customer-utility relationship. Advances needed to increase economic value and consumer equity in this context include:
Build a Clean Electricity Future. Reducing greenhouse gas and other harmful emissions is a key imperative for the power sector and builds on the success of environmental policy in reducing adverse public health and environmental impacts from electricity generation throughout the 20th century. Ensuring a clean and flexible electricity system will require continually reducing the cost and improving the environmental performance of energy technologies. Achieving these goals will require a number of actions, including:
Ensure Reliability, Security, and Resilience. Traditional electricity system operations are evolving that can enable a more dynamic and integrated grid, creating both enormous opportunities and the potential for new risks and vulnerabilities. The emerging threat environment, particularly with respect to cybersecurity and increases in the severity of extreme weather events, poses challenges for the reliability, security, and resilience of the electricity sector, as well as to its traditional governance and regulatory regimes. Key steps needed to minimize these risks include:
Invest in a Modern Workforce. A skilled workforce that can build, operate, and manage this modernized grid infrastructure is essential for the 21st century electricity system. Building a dynamic electricity workforce will require support from the Federal Government, including by:
Enhance Electricity Integration in North America. Leaders in the United States, Canada, and Mexico have publicly and repeatedly affirmed support for increasing energy integration, and there is a general understanding across the continent that the benefits of cross-border electricity trade can be improved with deeper system integration. A subset of the policies needed to accomplish this goal include:
The full report, details on the process for stakeholder input, and the related analyses are available at energy.gov/qer.