The Obama Administration released the first installment of its Quadrennial Energy Review (“QER”), which focuses on energy transmission, storage, and distribution (“TS&D”). The QER was first launched in Obama’s Climate Action Plan in June 2013, and is designed to provide an overview of and guidance for federal energy policy. The QER takes the form of annual installments over the four-year period to create a “moving spotlight” on elements of the energy system. The Presidential Mandate instructed that the first such element be American infrastructure of transporting, transmitting, and delivering energy, given the importance of these segments for the continued growth of our energy industry.
The QER identifies four objectives to address energy infrastructure needs and challenges: (1) improving TS&D infrastructure; (2) modernizing the electric grid; (3) modernizing energy security infrastructures; and (4) improving shared transport infrastructures such as rail and waterways. Other cross-cutting issues are covered in the QER, such as integrating North American energy markets; addressing environmental issues; enhancing employment and workforce training; and siting and permitting.
A number of specific recommendations and proposed plans are contained in the QER that could directly impact the oil and gas industry. It suggests that the Department of Energy (“DOE”) create a competitive program to foster natural gas pipeline replacement, at a cost of $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion over a 10-year period. The QER also proposes that DOE should determine the appropriate size and configuration of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and makes sure that it can be used effectively. A grant program is also proposed for the Department of Transportation to improve energy transportation infrastructure connectors, as a cost of $2 billion to $2.5 billion over 10 years. Finally, the QER urges Congress to approve Obama’s $10 million request to help update Greenhouse Gas Inventory estimates of methane emissions from natural gas systems.
Officials representing the QER Task Force explained that its efforts aimed to integrate input from all federal agencies covering these energy issues, and from outreach to a variety of stakeholders. The full report can be found here: http://energy.gov/epsa/downloads/quadrennial-energy-review-full-report.