Direct Current, An Podcast: Secretary Ernest Moniz -- The Exit Interview

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, Ph.D., joins us on the final episode of Season 1 of Direct Current to look back on the highs and lows of his time at the Energy Department, the progress we've made, and the challenges and opportunities still to come.

LANTERO: We wanted to start off with asking, what was your best day on the job?

MONIZ: Well, it’s hard to pick a single best day, but certainly the day in which we signed the Iran deal was pretty close to the top. Another one I have to say is when we had the announcement day in Paris of Mission Innovation, which put innovation in energy technology right at the middle of addressing climate change. So those were two high points, but you know, I think the real pleasure in the job is, day in and day out, really advancing what I just think is the pre-eminent science organization in the world and applying that to important problems. Certainly, in terms of singular days, those two would be hard to beat.

LANTERO: What about your hardest day?

MONIZ: Well, you know, we have our ups and downs, and certainly one occurred just about three years ago when we had the accidents at WIPP and we had to close for three years, and we’re pretty optimistic that we’re going to be cutting the ribbon on the reopening very shortly.

DOZIER: WIPP -- that’s W-I-P-P -- is the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. It’s where we store nuclear waste from defense activities deep underground, and it actually reopened on January 9, 2017, after we recorded this interview.

New York Times: Nation’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm Will Be Built Off Long Island

Seeking to meet growing electric demand in the Hamptons with renewable energy, the Long Island Power Authority approved the nation’s largest offshore wind farm on Wednesday, set for the waters between the eastern tip of Long Island and Martha’s Vineyard.

The farm, with as many as 15 turbines capable of powering 50,000 average homes over all, is the first of several planned by the developer, Deepwater Wind. It will be in a 256-square-mile parcel, with room for as many as 200 turbines, that the company is leasing from the federal government.

“It is the largest project to date, but it will not be the last project,” the power authority’s chief executive, Thomas Falcone, said before the vote as a crowd of supporters erupted in whoops and applause.

Think Progress: Social Media Blackout Hits Department of Energy Renewables Team

Employees working in a Department of Energy solar program were ordered this week not to share anything about their work on private or professional social media accounts, ThinkProgress has learned.

The directive was given at a staff meeting, according to the email sent Thursday morning, and came from Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Steven Chalk. Another employee confirmed the email’s authenticity.

“I want to share that we are PROHIBITED from any social media post (from personal or business handles) regarding your work, attendance at any meeting, etc. until further notice, per Steve Chalk, acting EE-1,” the email reads. The email was sent from a member of the solar program, known as SunShot, to roughly 50 staff members of the same group.

The Economist: How to Build a Nuclear-Power Plant

The Barakah nuclear-power plant under construction in Abu Dhabi will never attract the attention that the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in neighbouring Dubai does, but it is an engineering feat nonetheless. It is using three times as much concrete as the world’s tallest building, and six times the amount of steel. Remarkably, its first reactor may start producing energy in the first half of this year -- on schedule and (its South Korean developers insist) on budget. That would be a towering achievement.

In much of the world, building a nuclear-power plant looks like a terrible business prospect. Two recent additions to the world’s nuclear fleet, in Argentina and America, took 33 and 44 years to erect, respectively. Of 55 plants under construction, the Global Nuclear Power database reckons almost two-thirds are behind schedule. The delays lift costs, and make nuclear less competitive with other sources of electricity, such as gas, coal and renewables.