CEE partner brings Midwest sensibility to national Electricity Advisory Committee
Longtime partner to CEE, Great Plains Institute (GPI)
is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit working to transform the energy system to be environmentally and economically sustainable.
This fall, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz appointed GPI’s leader Rolf Nordstrom to serve a two-year term on the agency’s 24-member Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC)
. The EAC advises DOE in “implementing the Energy Policy Act of 2005, executing the Energy independence and Security Act of 2007, and modernizing the nation’s electricity delivery infrastructure.”
Rolf joined GPI in 2003, bringing with him tremendous experience blending economic with environmental policy goals, and working with diverse interests to facilitate broad agreement on difficult public policy issues. Recently I asked Rolf to share his thoughts about the EAC and his role on it.
For context, tell me a little about GPI’s history of collaboration with CEE.
GPI considers CEE to be one of our closest and longest standing partners. Our most relevant current project is the e21 Initiative
, a multiyear project that we co-direct, uniting utilities and other stakeholders to reimagine the utility business model and the regulatory framework to better prepare Minnesota for the future energy system and continue to protect the public interest.
I would say that my work on e21 is also one of the main points of connection to the EAC appointment. The EAC was established to define a strategy and do some long range planning around the modernization of the nation’s electricity grid, a goal shared by e21 as one of three key focus areas for our Phase 2. So I actually see my committee appointment as an opportunity to give voice to the work we are doing in Minnesota and the Midwest, particularly with e21. This is important because groups working on these issues at the federal level don’t often hear from those of us in the middle of the country.
What is the value of the EAC in the national energy landscape?
The electricity system and energy technology is rapidly changing, and it is going to be a challenge for both regulated utilities and regulators to keep up with the changing market. I see the value of this advisory committee as helping the DOE think around the corner and with a broad set of perspectives. With a diverse group of people like the committee’s members, there is a greater chance of having a systems view of the challenges and opportunities in preparing the electricity system to accommodate and take advantage of new energy technologies. The committee allows the DOE to crowdsource the best thinking on how to make greatest use of emerging energy technology.
What do you see as your unique role in the EAC?
I’m hoping to share more information about the e21 Initiative and the results of that process, with a particular emphasis on the grid modernization work. Big picture, I want to be a conduit to share what we are doing here in Minnesota and in the Midwest to lead the clean energy transition.
What does it mean for you to represent the Midwest on the committee?
There is a sensibility in the Midwest that I can bring to the advisory committee, in particular when it comes to the e21 Initiative and thinking about the utility business model evolution and corresponding regulatory framework. One really important perspective I can bring is what that evolution looks like for a vertically integrated, fully regulated state. Given that many U.S. states follow the same model, e21 provides an example from which other states could potentially draw useful lessons.
What do you hope to accomplish during your term on the EAC?
I expect the next two years to be full of rapid changes in the energy landscape, including the integration of more renewable energy and distributed energy resources of many kinds, such as energy storage, demand response and electric vehicles—all giving customers more options than they had before while ensuring that those who just want basic electric service can still afford it.
In terms of what I hope to accomplish, I want to contribute to a two-way exchange that can improve both the nation’s and Minnesota’s approach to grid modernization. I am excited because the committee membership is small enough that each voice can really make a difference. While I am looking forward to sharing what’s happening here in Minnesota and the Midwest, I also hope to gain insight from other committee members in to what’s happening in the rest of the country and take those lessons back home to inform and improve upon the work we are doing.
e21 at CEE
Great Plains Institute
Electricity Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Energy