WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 28, 2017 – Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA), a national advocate for energy consumers, hosted The Future of Electricity Forum and were joined by FERC Commissioner Neil Chatterjee, Department of Energy Under Secretary for Energy Mark Menezes, Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC) and various energy policy experts to talk about the current power system and what the future of America’s energy sector and its adjoining electrical grid might look like.
During the presentation, speakers from across fuel types continued to stress the need for an all-of-the-above energy strategy that does not pit fuel sources against each other. They also discussed their primary concerns surrounding threats to the grid and the current condition of the grid regarding increased threats from cyber terror, grid reliability and resiliency, how technology is moving across the globe, and the brain power that comes along with these modernization and technological innovations.
“It is important to bring these thought leaders together to discuss how the future of our country’s electricity,” said Michael Whatley, Executive Vice President of Consumer Energy Alliance. “The conversation on grid reliability, resiliency and security are critical because we need states, utilities and the federal government looking at long-term solutions to the cybersecurity threats and physical challenges that are facing the grid today.”
Neil Chatterjee, Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission spoke to the nature of the agency and the need to make technical analyses – not political.
“I think the questions that Secretary Perry has raised about grid resiliency and security are meritorious questions – and questions that have been out there for some time,” said Chatterjee. “It’s important to fully understand, as we contemplate our energy future, what these changes in our marketplace and our fuel mix mean. These are the kinds of difficult questions we’re up against because they are not clean, and they necessitate bold leadership. This is what we’re up against.”
“Despite our energy successes, we face challenges and risks to our country’s reliability and resiliency. That’s why it is important to look at how new technology and market demands have come together to lay the foundation for new research that has led to a more advanced generation of innovative energy technologies for Americans and our allies abroad,” said Department of Energy Under Secretary Mark Menezes. “We accept production and transmission as the way it is, but technology is changing what we know every day. That’s because energy as a whole in this country is so broad, it truly is an all of the above landscape.”
One of those challenges is understanding the role natural gas has played in not only reducing emissions but filling the demand gap left by the shuttering of existing forms of generation and the transition being made to distributed fuel sources, speakers said.
“As our technology has grown and changed over time, we now have incredible access to natural gas in regions across the country,” said Dena Wiggins, President, and CEO of Natural Gas Supply Association. “This unprecedented access to these American resources not only helps to support our growing and diversified fuel mix, it also helps meet the growing energy demand and environmental goals set by our communities. Our suppliers are ready to meet that demand, but to access this low-cost, reliable fuel we need to create the proper infrastructure to support its safe delivery, which is why we’re happy that FERC is finally at quorum to hopefully unlock some of the logjams that have been created over the last year, and gets this much-needed fuel to consumers across the U.S.”
Speaking of the consumer benefits of long-term planning and a balanced fuel mix, Noel Black, Vice President, Federal Regulatory Affairs, Southern Company said:
“In Georgia, the average consumer electric bill has basically stayed the same today as it was in 2011. That’s because we’ve been able to use all energy options available to dispatch when they’re needed to keep our supply curve flat, which ultimately helps our customers,” said Black. “And by maintaining our nuclear fleet in the Southeast, we are providing our customers with clean, reliable power for 60-80 years while others are taking this fuel source offline.”
Speaking on the need for a balanced energy mix Scott Aaronson, Executive Director, Security and Business Continuity at Edison Electric Institute said: “It’s time to let the markets dictate what they need because you can trust the markets to get it right. Ultimately, it will be a better use of our U.S. resources while also unleashing American jobs.”
About Consumer Energy Alliance
Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) brings together families, farmers, small businesses, distributors, producers and manufacturers to support America’s energy future. With more than 450,000 members nationwide, our mission is to help ensure stable prices and energy security for households across the country. We believe energy development is something that touches everyone in our nation, and thus it is necessary for all of us to actively engage in the conversation about how we develop our diverse energy resources and energy’s importance to the economy. Learn more at ConsumerEnergyAlliance.org.