Electricity Markets

Granholm Details How Public Power Can Work With The Department of Energy In Key Areas

Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on July 14 detailed how the Department of Energy (DOE) and the public power community can work together in a number of areas including research, development and deployment (RD&D) programs, as well as the country’s clean energy transition.

Granholm made her remarks in a Q&A with Colin Hansen, chair of the American Public Power Association's Board of Directors, at APPA’s National Conference Virtual Event.

Given the Biden Administration’s push for the power sector to get 100 percent of its electricity from zero-emitting resources, Hansen asked Granholm to detail what DOE plans to do to specifically help public power utilities in this clean energy transition “that will importantly ensure that electricity remains both affordable and reliable.”

“We totally want to partner,” Granholm said.

She noted that in October, DOE will begin a five-year, one-and-a -half-million dollar agreement with APPA “so we can work together on practical strategies to make the grid cleaner and more resilient and more reliable and affordable.”

Granholm also noted the partnership that many APPA members have with DOE’s power marketing administrations “to provide that affordable and reliable power.”

She said that as part of DOE’s new initiative to reduce the cost of grid-scale, long duration energy storage by 90% within the decade, “we’re going to work with stakeholders, including public power utilities, to make sure that the new long duration storage solutions can meet” the needs of public power utilities in an affordable way.

Turning to a different topic, Hansen noted that at the end of last year, the Energy Act of 2020 was signed into law, authorizing billions of dollars in RD&D programs over the next decade. APPA supported the legislation, particularly because DOE RD&D programs would be open to public power.

Hansen asked Granholm to discuss how public power utilities can participate in, and benefit from, RD&D efforts at DOE, particularly smaller public power utilities.

The Energy Secretary said that DOE has already mobilized $1.5 billion for clean energy deployment and RD&D “just this year in this administration.”

Granholm said that “a lot of this work is happening at the labs and through our efforts with states and utilities including on grid modernization and energy efficiency. We’re also supporting demonstration projects – emerging zero carbon technologies like carbon capture and advanced nuclear.”

She said that passing President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda through Congress “would give us so many more resources for all of this work for partnerships with utilities large and small. We want to share the resources, the funding, the innovation, the insights with you to work together to test and deploy these solutions” that public power is looking for.

Meanwhile, Hansen noted that in September 2020, DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response awarded APPA a grant of $6 million over a three-year period to develop and deploy cyber and cyber-physical threat solutions for public power utilities.

“Through this cooperative agreement, we’re going to continue to work with APPA to develop and to deploy these cyber solutions for public power utilities,” Granholm said.

Hansen, executive director of Kansas Municipal Utilities (KMU) in McPherson, Kansas, was installed as chair of APPA’s Board of Directors during APPA’s National Conference in Orlando, Florida, on June 23.