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EEI Energy Talk  
April 2021
Top Story
Top Story
Electric Companies Are #Committed2Clean
On April 22—the 51st annual Earth Day—President Joe Biden announced a nationally determined contribution (NDC) for the United States under the Paris Agreement, calling for a 50-52 percent reduction of carbon emissions below 2005 levels by 2030 across all sectors of the U.S. economy.

EEI President Tom Kuhn issued a statement in response, saying: “Meeting the NDC will require the participation of every sector of the U.S. economy, along with new technologies and supportive policies that are resource- and technology-inclusive, flexible, and equitable. 

“EEI’s member companies—America’s investor-owned electric companies—are committed to getting the energy we provide as clean as we can as fast as we can, without compromising the reliability or affordability that our customers value. We are leaders in reducing carbon emissions and are integral to the climate solution. 

“We will continue to push for ambitious reductions in carbon emissions in the decade ahead. At the same time, we will advocate for policies that accelerate innovation; help get critical transmission and energy grid infrastructure built more quickly; and recognize that electrification can help to reduce emissions cost-effectively in other sectors of the economy, particularly the industrial and transportation sectors.

“We have an extraordinary opportunity as a nation to tackle climate change. EEI and our member companies look forward to working with the Biden administration and with Congress to find the most efficient, affordable, and reliable path to clean energy and a cleaner economy.”

Thanks largely to the leadership of EEI’s member companies, carbon emissions from the U.S. power sector are at their lowest level in more than 40 years—and continue to fall. Equally important, 40 percent of America’s electricity now comes from carbon-free sources, including nuclear energy, hydropower, wind, and solar energy.

Read EEI Executive Vice President of Public Policy and External Affairs Brian Wolff’s op-ed in Politico. Learn more in EEI’s infographic and at our #Committed2Clean webpage

News From the Hill
News From the Hill
EEI Supports Expanded Funding for Clean Energy Research 
EEI is part of a broad coalition of non-governmental organizations, businesses, labor unions, research institutions, and trade associations that is advocating for a multi-billion dollar increase in fiscal year 2022 funding for clean energy innovation at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). This investment is needed both for reaching climate goals and maintaining U.S. economic competitiveness.

An open letter to congressional leadership co-signed by EEI and other partners—including Third Way, ClearPath, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—notes that, over the past several decades, “federal investments have created new industries and countless jobs, reduced emissions, increased energy security, and enhanced the nation’s global influence. While this investment has yielded impressive returns, scaling up breakthrough clean energy technology is no small feat. To keep our domestic innovators, businesses, and workforce competitive in global energy markets and to stay on track toward our climate goals, Congress will need to immediately make robust, goal-oriented federal investments in priority energy innovation efforts.”

Existing technologies can get us much of the way to a 100 percent clean energy future. Completing the work  will require new, carbon-free, 24/7 technologies that are affordable for customers. To focus on implementation of federal policies that can help ensure the commercial availability of affordable, carbon-free, 24/7 power technology options by the early 2030s, EEI has joined with a number of environmental and technology-focused non-governmental organizations to launch the Carbon-Free Technology Initiative (CFTI).
 
In addition to EEI and our member companies, participants include the Clean Air Task Force, Bipartisan Policy Center, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, ClearPath, Great Plains Institute, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, Nuclear Energy Institute, and Third Way.
 
CFTI focuses on policy recommendations to advance key technology areas:
  • Advanced wind and solar energy systems;
  • Long-duration storage and advanced demand efficiency;
  • Advanced, dispatchable, and renewable super hot rock deep geothermal;
  • Zero-carbon fuels, such as hydrogen;
  • Advanced nuclear energy (both fission and fusion); and
  • Carbon capture, utilization, and storage.
       

What We're Reading
What We're Reading
Achieving Clean Energy Goals With Advanced Carbon-Free Technologies
Today, America’s electric companies are leading an ambitious and urgent transformation: the goal is to get the energy they provide as clean as they can as fast as they can, without compromising customer reliability and affordability, to combat climate change.

“As we continue to make significant reductions in carbon emissions across our industry, it’s really important that we also move on a parallel path to develop the zero-carbon, 24/7 resources we’ll need to achieve a carbon-free electricity system,” said EEI Chairman Ben Fowke, chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy. “We are leaders on clean energy, and this is the biggest technology initiative that EEI has ever endorsed,” he added.

Read more in Electric Perspectives.

Happening Now
Happening Now
2021 Edison Award Finalists Announced
An independent panel of reviewers has selected five U.S. and three international electric companies as finalists for the 2021 Edison Award. Presented annually, the Edison Award recognizes electric companies for their distinguished leadership, innovation, and contribution to the advancement of the electric power industry.

“EEI’s member companies are committed to investing in and leading the transition to a clean energy future,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “The companies selected as finalists for the Edison Award have demonstrated exemplary leadership in the research, development, and deployment of new technologies and projects that allow them to deliver clean, reliable, and affordable energy to the customers and the communities they serve. They all are very deserving of this recognition.”

The winners of the 93rd Edison Award will be selected by a panel of former electric company chief executives.
 
Edison Award Finalists
  • The AES Corporation was selected for the AES Alamitos Battery Energy Storage System. In 2020, AES completed a 400 megawatt-hour stand-alone battery energy storage system in California, one of the largest battery storage systems in operation in the world today and the first specifically selected to replace a natural gas peaker plant in the United States.
  • Edison International/Southern California Edison was selected for its transportation electrification portfolio. SCE’s innovative suite of programs is designed to help accelerate the electrification of the transportation sector, with nearly $2 billion of funding approved in California to support electric vehicle adoption and the installation of more than 50,000 new charging ports.
  • Liberty Utilities was selected for the Sagehen Microgrid. The company is providing innovative customer solutions in a high-risk wildfire zone in California through the development of a standalone microgrid at UC Berkeley’s Sagehen Creek Field Station. This innovative microgrid directly benefits customers with clean energy and energy grid resiliency while avoiding resource-intensive hardening of 4 miles of power lines in an environmentally sensitive area.
  • Minnesota Power was selected for its Great Northern Transmission Line. The company completed and energized a unique clean energy initiative that integrates U.S. wind energy with Canadian hydropower, enabling efficient use of renewable energy and improving electric reliability in both countries.
  • Xcel Energy was selected as a finalist for its hydrogen pilot. With the assistance of a Department of Energy grant, Xcel Energy took a significant step forward to develop new, carbon-free, 24/7 energy through a first-of-its-kind effort to build a pilot hydrogen plant.
International Edison Award Finalists
  • The AES Corporation was selected thanks to the AES Hydro Complex, Virtual Reservoir, and Alto Maipo. In 2020, AES achieved significant milestones in Chile in its effort to achieve the country’s aggressive carbon neutrality goals. AES expanded its Cordillera Hydro Complex with the construction of the Alto Maipo Project and the commissioning of the world's first virtual reservoir, combining run-of-river hydroelectric plants with universal-scale energy storage capacity. The construction of the Alto Maipo Project marks the largest renewable energy project in Chile.
  • ATCO is under consideration for the Fort Chipewyan Off-Grid Solar and Storage Project. In partnership with Three Nations Energy, ATCO completed Canada's largest off-grid solar and storage microgrid project, providing the remote Northern Alberta community of Fort Chipewyan with clean energy and significantly reducing reliance on diesel for electricity generation.
  • J-POWER was selected for the Osaki CoolGen Project, a three-step demonstration pilot designed to establish integrated coal gasification fuel cell combined- cycle with carbon dioxide (CO2) capture. Osaki CoolGen Corporation, founded by J-POWER, has conducted the demonstration of oxygen-blown integrated coal gasification combined cycle with CO2 capture during the project’s second step.
The winners of the 2021 Edison Award will be announced in June during EEI 2021.

Save the Date
Save the Date
Register Now for EEI 2021
EEI is bringing together the nation’s foremost thought leaders, industry executives, and policymakers for two days of conversation around the transition to clean energy and the road to net zero carbon emissions. Join colleagues across the industry June 8-10 for key insights into what this pivotal moment of change means for EEI’s member companies and their customers.

The virtual conference will allow you to customize your event experience to fit your schedule, watching sessions live or on demand after they air. Keynotes and breakout sessions will enable attendees to connect with industry leaders on broad trends and specialized topics to give a glimpse of where the industry is headed. And, for the first time, EEI 2021 will feature a pre-conference event: an afternoon of “industry basics” for newcomers and seasoned professionals alike, covering fundamentals and giving unparalleled networking opportunities with peers and experts.
 

Cybersecurity Focus
Cybersecurity Focus
DOE Cybersecurity Effort Complements Industry Initiatives
On April 20, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a 100-day plan to enhance the cybersecurity of industrial control systems (ICS) that are part of the energy grid. According to DOE, “Over the next 100 days, DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER)—in partnership with electric utilities—will continue to advance technologies and systems that will provide cyber visibility, detection, and response capabilities for ICS of electric utilities.” The plan aims to modernize cybersecurity defenses across the sector and to deploy or augment technologies and methods that help detection, mitigation, and analysis of threats.
 
EEI President Tom Kuhn said, “Given the sophisticated and constantly changing threats posed by adversaries, America’s electric companies remain focused on securing the industrial control systems that operate the North American energy grid. We welcome the new ICS initiative and appreciate that the Biden administration is making cybersecurity for operations a high priority.”

Read more in EEI’s press release.
What We're Watching
We Are #Committed2Clean
What We're Watching
On Twitter
New Federal Regulations on Methane Emissions
On Twitter

International Perspectives
International Perspectives
Global Electrification Forum
Over two weeks in April, EEI’s Global Electrification Forum (GEF)—held virtually for the first time—attracted more than 650 attendees for an informative and engaging program with panel sessions, keynotes, executive roundtables, an innovation showcase, and fireside chats. More than 50 speakers, representing 34 countries, covered a broad range of issues, including serving customers in the post-pandemic world; the electrification of economies; the clean energy future; digitalization; customer expectations; business and regulatory models; resilience; financing net zero; and leadership.

In addition to the many U.S. and international electric company executives and leaders from the financial, transportation, and other sectors who took part in panels and fireside chats, the GEF included remarks from many distinguished speakers, including:
  • His Royal Highness Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales
  • Lord Mervyn King, former governor of the Bank of England
  • Roman Krznaric, author of The Good Ancestor
  • Malcolm Turnbull, the 29th Prime Minister of Australia
  • Rod Carr, chair of New Zealand’s Climate Change Commission
  • Tomas Anker Christensen, Denmark’s climate ambassador
  • Hamadoun Toure, Mali’s minister of communication and digital economy

In the News
In the News
More Than 107 Million Smart Meters Deployed
According to the latest report from the Institute for Electric Innovation, U.S. electric companies had deployed an estimated 107 million smart meters by year-end 2020, and 115 million smart meter deployments are expected by year-end 2021. The estimates are based on survey results and approved plans, and indicate that smart meters serve 75 percent of U.S. households today.

“Smart meters continue to be a key technology for the electric power industry and are the foundation for a customer-facing energy grid,” the report notes. “Smart meters enable more rapid two-way communications between electric companies and their customers; provide new and expanded services for customers; and enhance energy grid resiliency and operations.” Fifty-eight electric companies have fully deployed smart meters for their customers.

The report highlights how electric companies are using smart meter data and the underlying communications systems and technology to respond to and support customers during the COVID-19 pandemic; effectively engage customers in programs to shift and shape their energy use to meet clean energy goals; and enhance energy grid resiliency and operations during severe weather events. It also includes examples of how technology companies are partnering with electric companies to use smart meter data to provide value to customers.

Policy Perspectives
Policy Perspectives
EEI Comments on Clean Energy for America Act  
On April 21, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Clean Energy for America Act, legislation that takes a technology-neutral credit approach to revamping existing renewable energy tax credits based on the carbon intensity of the technology.

In a statement, EEI President Tom Kuhn commended Wyden for his leadership and for introducing the Act: “As we have seen over the last decade, tax policy can be a real driver to bringing carbon-free technologies like wind and solar to market. We appreciate that the Clean Energy for America Act is technology-neutral and does not pick winners or losers. It allows for the development and deployment of clean technologies that electric companies will need to meet their carbon reduction goals. It also benefits electricity customers by helping to make these new carbon-free technologies more affordable.

“We also appreciate that the bill is flexible and is designed to incentivize all entities that are building these clean energy technologies, including EEI member companies. This will unlock an even greater deployment of clean energy resources across the country.

“We are pleased that Sen. Wyden’s bill recognizes the importance of electrifying transportation to help reduce carbon emissions across the economy and expands the tax credits for electric vehicles and EV infrastructure. These credits will drive further growth in electric transportation, spur manufacturing, and lower costs for consumers, while putting even more EVs on U.S. roads.

“EEI’s member companies—America’s investor-owned electric companies—are leading the clean energy transformation and are focused on getting the energy we provide as clean as we can as fast as we can in the most efficient, affordable, and reliable way. It is important to us that we lead on clean energy in a way that gives us all the options, including making sure that we maintain the existing nuclear fleet.

“We look forward to working with Chairman Wyden to find ways to support existing nuclear and to getting effective tax policies in place now, so that we will have the resources needed to achieve a 100 percent clean energy future.”

In Memoriam
In Memoriam
Thomas F. Farrell II
Former Dominion Energy Chairman, President, and CEO Thomas F. Farrell passed away on April 2, one day after retiring from the company. He served in leadership roles at Dominion Energy since 2006 and served as EEI Chairman from 2011-2012. Among the many accomplishments during his EEI chairmanship, Tom was instrumental in creating the Troops to Energy Jobs program to streamline the hiring process for our nation’s military veterans. Today the program creates pathways for military veterans to find training and careers in the electric, nuclear, and natural gas industries.

“Tom was a visionary leader and a trusted friend and confidante to me and to so many throughout our industry,” EEI President Tom Kuhn wrote in IHS Energy Daily. “A true statesman, Tom believed deeply in our industry’s essential public service mission and always focused on finding innovative solutions to the energy challenges we face as a society. He worked tirelessly throughout his career to advance public policies that benefit the customers and communities served by Dominion Energy and other investor-owned electric companies across the country.”

Writing in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, EEI Chairman Ben Fowke, chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy, said: “I had the privilege of knowing and working with Farrell for more than 10 years. He was a consummate gentleman, statesman, and visionary leader who worked tirelessly to solve problems, build consensus, and advance public policies that benefit electricity customers in Virginia and across the country.”

“Farrell set a high standard for me to live up to during my EEI chairmanship, and I will miss his wisdom, counsel, and industry expertise,” Fowke added. “He truly was one of the major stars and pivotal forces ever to have served our industry. While we have lost a champion and a friend, I know that Tom Farrell’s bright light and his spirit of service never will be dimmed.”
 
Read more about how Tom Farrell honored the nation's veterans.
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