No Political Interference,’ DOE Study Author Says

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Publish Date:
July 21, 2017
Author(s):
  • Northey, Hannah
Source:
E&E News - Energywire
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Summary

A veteran energy consultant who penned the leaked draft of a high-profile grid study for Energy Secretary Rick Perry is speaking out about speculation that the report has been politically tainted.

Alison Silverstein, an independent consultant who served as an adviser to former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Pat Wood III, also confirmed her work pointed a finger at low demand for electricity and cheap natural gas as the drivers of coal and nuclear plant closures, and renewables and regulations as exacerbating the problem. The draft review also concluded the current level of renewables does not pose a threat to the U.S. electric grid, she said.

What makes Perry’s exercise more contentious is the speed and scope as it cuts across various agency offices and national labs, political ranks, and possibly the White House, said Dan Reicher, an assistant Energy secretary under President Clinton and a member of President Obama’s transition team.

“So the folks in the fossil office not necessarily agreeing with the efficiency and renewables office, not necessarily agreeing with the nuclear office or the electricity office,” he said. “You then have the layer of review of the political leadership all the way up to the secretary.”

Reicher suggested such complex DOE studies in the past would have taken months or even years, not weeks.

“It’s a highly controversial topic inside of a highly controversial administration where there’s a lot at stake, at least in theory,” Reicher continued. “It’s not surprising pieces of this are being leaked because there’s a high level of distrust going multiple directions, and there’s a lot at stake inside an administration where there’s a very large amount of leaking going on.”

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