Impetus can be expected to be given to the development of smart grids in the United States with a new Quadrennial Energy Review established by President Barack Obama last week.

The initial focus of the review – the first report of which must be delivered by January 31, 2015 – will be on the nation’s infrastructure for transporting, transmitting, and delivering energy. The current infrastructure is increasingly challenged by transformations in energy supply, markets, and patterns of end use; issues of aging and capacity; impacts of climate change; and cyber and physical threats. Any vulnerability in this infrastructure may be exacerbated by the increasing interdependencies of energy systems with water, telecommunications, transportation, and emergency response systems. The first report will serve as a roadmap to help address these challenges.

Affordable, clean, and secure energy and energy services are essential for improving U.S. economic productivity, enhancing quality of life, protecting the environment, and ensuring the nation’s security, reads the Presidential Memorandum. Achieving these goals requires a comprehensive and integrated energy strategy resulting from interagency dialogue and active engagement of external stakeholders. The Quadrennial Energy Review, which will report every 4 years, is aimed to help the federal government better meet this responsibility.

The Quadrennial Energy Review Task Force will include members from all the relevant executive departments and agencies, including State, Treasury, Defense, the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Office of Management and Budget, National Economic Council, National Security Staff, Council on Environmental Quality, Council of Economic Advisers, Environmental Protection Agency, Small Business Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, and National Science Foundation.

The Task Force will be co-chaired by the directors of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and of the Domestic Policy Council, and will be supported by the Secretary of Energy, including support for coordination activities related to the preparation of the report, policy analysis and modeling, and stakeholder engagement.

Specifically the Quadrennial Energy Review report will:

  • Provide an integrated view of, and recommendations for, federal energy policy in the context of economic, environmental, occupational, security, and health and safety priorities
  • Review the adequacy, with respect to energy policy, of existing executive and legislative actions, and recommend additional executive and legislative actions as appropriate
  • Assess and recommend priorities for research, development, and demonstration programs to support key energy innovation goals, and
  • Identify analytical tools and data needed to support further policy development and implementation.

By Jonathan Spencer Jones