Keynote Speakers Address State Energy Offices at Energy Outlook Conference

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Energy Moniz, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator McCarthy, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (HI), and U.S. Senator Al Franken (MN) addressed the State and Territory Energy Offices in early February at NASEO’s Energy Policy Outlook Conference in Washington, D.C.  All stressed the catalytic and important role of the State Energy Offices in developing and implementing state energy policies and programs that advance energy resiliency, environmental quality, and economic development.

On Wednesday, February 5, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz underscored the importance of state-federal interaction on energy, environment, and economic issues.   

“So much of the action on energy issues is at the state level,” Secretary Moniz said, “and the Federal Government needs to understand how energy issues vary state-to-state.” Moniz cited DOE’s ongoing relationship with NASEO, particularly in the area of energy assurance, as evidence of a strong state-DOE partnership. 

Secretary Moniz described the DOE’s Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) and explained that its success will be driven by engagement with states and other stakeholders.  He addressed the current propane shortages impacting multiple states as both a short-term concern and a reflection of the infrastructure needs that will be addressed by the QER. 

He highlighted manufacturing innovation as another important example of the DOE’s work with the states and said DOE will provide some of the foundational elements to help expand manufacturing of energy products. 

On resiliency, Secretary Moniz highlighted the climate, cyber, and physical threats and interdependencies that need to be addressed.  DOE will be working with states and others on regional fuel resiliency studies. 

Secretary Moniz recognized that low-carbon solutions are going to look different in different parts of the country.  “Consequently,” he added, “all-of-the-above means making the investments for all the fuel sources (e.g., renewables, nuclear, fossil, efficiency) with the idea that the market place will select from these options.”  He noted that the United States has had the largest reduction of carbon emissions in the world over the last few years and said natural gas has been a big part of that. 

Examples of state leadership in different parts of the country, said Secretary Moniz, will lead us to more of a national approach. 

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy stressed state-federal cooperation on Friday, February 7, when she provided a compelling keynote on the economic opportunity and resilience benefits of tackling climate change and air quality issues using innovative energy policies and technologies.

“We’ve gotten to learn each other’s worlds,” noted Administrator McCarthy on efforts at the federal and state level to align air quality, environmental, and energy strategies and agencies. “It really requires face-to-face engagement and a recognition that the success of the energy world relies on what we’re doing and the success of the environmental world relies on what energy is doing.”

The United States has cut its total carbon pollution more than any other nation in the past eight years—a result, McCarthy noted, of a coordinated effort among local communities, states, regions, the federal government, and the private sector. She praised the work of State Energy Offices in helping the EPA design rules, systems, and models that boost state economies, cut waste, and reduce pollutants that threaten public health.

“I am confident in the ability of EPA to listen to everyone’s comments” to design strategies that work for everyone, McCarthy concluded.

Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz (HI) discussed the value State Energy Offices in Federal-State Partnerships on February 6.  During his keynote luncheon address, Senator Schatz emphasized the key role played by State Energy Offices, the U.S. Department of Energy, and local governments and organizations in promoting investment in energy.

“Opportunities exist for other states to come to Hawaii, learn what we are doing, and replicate our successes,” noted the senator in discussing the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative (HCEI), which launched in 2008 from a memorandum of understanding between the state and DOE. The HCEI established ambitious goals to increase energy efficiency and renewable energy and has resulted in the development of aggressive policy tools, financing models, and partnerships to meet them. The Hawaii Energy Office is at the helm of implementing these strategies and coordinating stakeholders.

An important component of the HCEI model, noted the Senator, is means to gain broad input. “It provides a forum for stakeholders to explore common ground outside of the context of a contested case or proceeding,” and offers under-represented populations an opportunity to have a voice in and participate in the clean energy economy.

Senator Schatz thanked NASEO senior advisor and former Hawaii energy office director Maurice Kaya for his “knowledge, passion, and disposition” in planting the seeds for the HCEI.

Senator Al Franken (MN) provided remarks via video on February 6, saying “states are leading the way to a clean energy future.”  He explained that as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy he is “looking forward to working with NASEO to better understand the impact of federal policies on states.”  Senator Franken announced the hearing he scheduled for Wednesday, February 12, with three states to consider lessons for federal policy from state leadership in energy. 

The presentations from the NASEO Energy Outlook Conference are available online: