Since 1941, the National Petroleum Council (NPC) has acted as the unified voice of the oil and gas industry to advise the Secretary of Energy on domestic and international policy issues. The NPC has published over 200 influential reports on the state and future of America’s oil and gas industries, with specific recommendations on how to maximize our resources. This federally chartered but privately funded group has had a substantial impact on the national energy discourse for generations. 

But nothing akin to the NPC exists for the electricity sector, which accounts for 40 percent of our energy consumption in the U.S. -- and the sector has never needed it more than it does today.

Our electricity infrastructure is in the midst of a series of dramatic changes, all of which could threaten the stability, reliability, resilience, affordability and environmental impact of this vital source of commerce. The rise of distributed energy resources such as solar power, demand response and energy storage threaten to upend the traditional utility business model, as well as necessitating significant infrastructure upgrades.

Cybersecurity threats to the electric grid are at an all-time high, and the grid remains dangerously unprepared for a large-scale attack. Sweeping innovation is needed in order to catalyze the transition to a cleaner, more intelligent electricity market. The federal government, and particularly the Department of Energy (DOE), has a vital role to play in this transformation, but it needs formalized input from the increasingly complex electricity industry.

Amidst all of this change, all electricity customers must retain access to reliable, affordable electricity. Navigating changing customer dynamics while maintaining that access should be a primary task of the National Electricity Council (NEC). With representation from all sides of the issue -- distributed energy resource providers, utilities, grid operators and consumer advocates -- the NEC will be in a unique position to seek and recommend viable solutions to the myriad challenges posed by a rapidly changing electricity paradigm.

President Obama should charter an NEC, similar in scope and form to the National Petroleum Council. Comprising a wide swath of electricity industry players, observers and advocates, the NEC would help the Secretary of Energy navigate the increasingly complex landscape of electricity generation and delivery in the U.S. The National Petroleum Council has been invaluable for over 70 years -- now is the time to do the same for electricity.

So what would the council look like? Download GTM Research's new policy brief, written by Senior VP Shayle Kann, to learn more and explore how an NEC could help the electricity sector deal with these structural changes.