We are getting a clearer picture of the Energy Department's priorities for the electric grid under Secretary Perry.

In the four months after Perry requested a special report on threats to baseload power plants, we saw an unprecedented number of "prebuttals" from groups worried that it would assist in President Trump's mission to revive the coal industry.

We finally got the end result last week. While some environmental groups didn't like the report, it was a straightforward account of the factors changing the grid -- not a booster for coal, or any other technology.

But there are still a lot of outstanding questions. Are emerging distributed resources discounted in the report? Where does climate change fit in? How does the report inform policy going forward?

This week, we’ve got a wide-ranging interview with Travis Fisher, a senior adviser at the Department of Energy, who took the lead on the study. He talks to us about the process, critical reactions, key findings, and recommendations for market designs.

Key quotes:

Fisher on inter-office collaboration at DOE: "Our process was to involve key point people from key offices that had the right expertise."

On the prebuttal reactions to the report: "I did not anticipate it. Looking back on it, I can see how the phrasing of the April 14 memo...caused some reaction from folks who, for example, don't even like using the term 'baseload.'"

On the leak: "On some level it was a sense of betrayal, because we had been very open and inclusive throughout the whole process."

Recommended reading:

  • DOE staff report on electricity markets and reliability
  • GTM: DOE's Grid Study Is a Rorschach Test for the Future of Electricity
  • GTM Squared: Getting Into the Weeds of DOE’s Grid Report
  • PJM: Energy Price Formation and Valuing Flexibility