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House Committee Examines DOE Modernization

On January 9th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on Department of Energy (DOE) Modernization: Advancing DOE’s Mission for National, Economic, and Energy Security of the United States. The hearing was broken up into two panels with the first panel comprised of Department of Energy (DOE) Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette, and Undersecretaries Mark Menezes, Paul Dabbar, and Frank Klotz. The second panel was comprised of a series of subject matter experts.

In opening remarks, Chairman Walden articulated some of the modernization challenges the DOE faces in protecting critical infrastructures against both physical and cyber-attacks, and asked panelists for recommendations on evolving cyber threats.  Panel member Sarah Ladislaw, Director of Director of the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies provided seven recommendations to assist the agency in modernizing and preparing for future challenges, recommending that the DOE take a leadership role in conducting analysis regarding the safety, reliability, and optimization of the nation’s energy infrastructure, as well as promoting energy efficiency, innovation, and supply. 

Other witnesses testified that despite the U.S.’s status as a key energy producer, the nation is still falling behind China in many respects. Panel member Dan Reicher, Senior Fellow at Brookings and Executive Director of Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, explained that China is currently the leader in clean energy, producing 70 percent of the world’s solar panels. China is also a leader in manufacturing and development of key energy technologies, and is increasing its capabilities in R&D and commercialization.

However, Reicher emphasized technology development as a key competitive advantage for the United States, and urged support for DOE’s collaboration with the standards setting community as part of DOE’s efforts to advance technology development and innovation. DOE and Congress are currently considering reforms to DOE’s Appliance and Equipment Standards program, but Reicher urged caution in reforming the current system, as major changes may undermine regulatory predictability for manufacturers. 

An archived video of the hearing can be found at this link:

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