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Robinson says grid reliability is top concern

  • Feb 10, 2022
  • 217 views
Source: 
The MetroWest Daily News

BOSTON — State Rep. Maria Robinson, D-Framingham, faced pointed questions on such issues as getting clean energy to market, implementing new power grid technologies and juggling various regional energy goals during a hearing Tuesday on her nomination to serve in the U.S. Department of Energy.

Robinson responded to questions from the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, but no vote was taken on her nomination. Senators had until 6 p.m. Wednesday to submit additional questions for the record.

Robinson was nominated in September by President Joe Biden to serve as an assistant secretary of energy in the Office of Electricity. She said during her testimony that she trusts "America's ability to solve problems through technological development with smart investments and well-designed policies," including achieving the Biden administration's goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and "maintaining a reliable, resilient grid that can withstand the ever-increasing amount of catastrophic weather-induced events."

In response to a question from committee Chairman Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., regarding the reliability of clean energy, Robinson responded that "reliability is the number one concern" for the Office of Electricity.

"I think there are lots of things that we need to do in order to do that, including grid capability upgrades, which will come through the bipartisan infrastructure bill," she said in reference to the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that was signed into law by Biden in November.

U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., also questioned Robinson about reliability, specifically in terms of coal.

Robinson said that "both reliability and resilience" are a "major concern," but that the Office of Electricity is "source neutral" and will "ensure there is reliable energy from whatever source."

Regarding a question from Hoeven natural gas pipelines, Robinson said "there's conversations to be had" specifically regarding energy in New England, and that the region "probably has some more constraints than we see in other locations and how it impacts customers."

Robinson said if confirmed, she wants to be sensitive about "what regional organizations and states want to see long term" and be "considerate of the fact" that the long-term goals of New England are moving towards decarbonization.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., questioned Robinson on how she plans to integrate new technology into the current 70-year-old power grid faster than what is happening now.

Robinson said she "shares (his) concern" and plans to test technologies from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory that have reported a potential $50 billion in consumer savings if implemented across the entire national grid. She said she's "looking forward to looking through the smart grid integration program and the funding through the bipartisan infrastructure bill, as well to continue quick deployment of all these technologies."

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