Energy Secretary Moniz: Modernize the grid and upgrade infrastructure
By Steven Johnson, ect.coop
At a national energy conference in June, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said the U.S. needs to modernize the electric grid and replace aging infrastructure as part of an overall energy security policy.
“It is time to take a fresh and comprehensive look at how we define and implement an energy security policy that is based on 21st century energy market changes, challenges and needs,” he said.
Moniz said people tend to associate U.S. energy security with imported oil from unstable Middle East regimes. But a rash of weather-related events, physical attacks and natural disasters underscore the importance of hardening the grid and replacing aging pipelines, Moniz said.
“Our energy security approach has been pretty formulaic for a long time,” he said, calling Hurricane Sandy in 2012 “a two-by-four” in showing how much systems such as communications depend on reliable electric service to function.
In 2005, he added, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita downed 85,000 utility poles, knocked out 800 distribution substations and forced the closure of three major pipelines for two days.
Moniz said several recommendations in the Energy Department’s recently released Quadrennial Energy Review could help update the grid and energy infrastructure. Electric cooperative officials participated in the review process. Among them:
- Spending $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion during a 10-year period to accelerate pipeline replacement and enhance maintenance programs for natural gas distribution systems.
- Establishing a $3 billion to $5 billion grant program to promote innovative solutions to hardening transmission and distribution networks and developing new approaches to regional grid resilience.