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DOE Official Questions Timeline for Transmission Buildout

The director of the Energy Department’s Loan Programs Office isn’t sure the U.S. can build out its transmission infrastructure in time to meet President Biden’s goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2035, according to POLITICO Pro (subscription). 

What’s going on: Jigar Shah “pointed to research Wednesday that says the United States will need to rapidly expand its transmission systems to reach decarbonization targets or expand nuclear power. ‘The only thing harder to build than nuclear in this country is transmission,’ Shah said during an energy storage policy forum hosted by the American Clean Power Association on Wednesday.”

  • According to POLITICO, Shah called on the renewable-energy industry to “provide a ‘more reasoned answer’ about what is required as part of the transition,” and for honesty about its “new responsibility to answer the ‘tough questions’ about the energy transition.”
  • “I don’t understand who in this room actually thinks that’s going to happen by 2035. The lines that we’re building right now were started 12 years ago,” he said.

“Coexist”: We still need traditional energy sources, Shah said, and we must stop vilifying oil and gas.

  • “‘We don’t know how to run refineries. If these people lose their jobs, and we can’t get them back, we’re screwed. All of us are screwed, because you’re not all running electric vehicles yet for your installation crews,’ he said. ‘We all need to figure out how to coexist together as we make this transition occur.’”

Batteries: When asked about his office’s role in advocating for a domestic battery storage supply chain, Shah said he didn’t think that was the real challenge, pointing instead to a broader lack of planning and of comprehension of manufacturing.

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