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New DOE Under Secretary David Crane Ups the Pressure on Deployment

Moments after he was sworn in as the Department of Energy’s first Under Secretary for Infrastructure, the Bipartisan Policy Center hosted David Crane for a fireside chat with BPC’s Energy Program Executive Director Sasha Mackler. Crane made his priorities clear—get clean energy technologies deployed and deployed quickly.

Recent landmark legislation has placed DOE at the forefront of the energy transition. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests billions of dollars to revamp the nation’s energy systems and finance the development of renewable energy and emissions-reduction technologies. The CHIPS and Science Act makes historic investments in the nation’s research and development infrastructure to develop innovative energy technologies. The Inflation Reduction Act includes $370 billion to deploy clean energy solutions in every sector of the economy and every corner of the country.

With resources in hand, Crane now oversees the DOE’s effort to stand up new programs and shift the agency’s focus to commercializing technologies capable of meeting America’s energy needs and achieving emissions reduction goals.

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The government, I believe, is moving at private sector speed. It’s time to put up or shut up. Unless President Biden... comes into my office and says, slow this down, I’m not slowing down for anything or anyone.
DOE Under Secretary for Infrastructure David Crane

In his new position, Crane oversees the new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, the Loan Programs Office, and other DOE offices critical to the deployment of clean energy infrastructure that will improve access to reliable energy sources across the nation. He also brings a unique perspective to the position due to his private sector experience as CEO of NRG Energy and expressed his hopes of shifting energy progress from “private sector-led and government-enabled” to “government-enabled and government-accelerated.” With hundreds of billions of dollars at his disposal, Crane intends to match the private sector pace for energy innovation, pressure hard-to-abate sectors to reduce their emissions, and provide demand-side support and government procurement options for promising technologies. Still, he acknowledges the uncertainties of scaling up clean energy prototypes, remarking, “we’ve got to be prepared to try some things” and “if nothing we ever do fails, then we didn’t take enough chances.”

There’s more to come [from DOE on new demand-side policy] soon. I’m hoping that when we move as a government to address that, people will say “wow this is a really different federal government, they’re not semi-oblivious to what’s happening in the private sector.
DOE Under Secretary for Infrastructure David Crane

Crane’s vision for energy innovation also implies a new role for the private sector. To speak on the future of the energy industry, BPC also hosted a panel discussion led by Tanya Das, BPC Senior Associate Director for Energy Innovation, with Norm Augustine, Chad Holliday—co-chairs of BPC’s American Energy Innovation Council—and Tom Steyer, co-executive chair of Galvanize Climate Solutions, a leading voice in the conversation about clean energy and climate.

So, what is the problem with getting out all of the huge number of wind, solar, battery, EV, projects that are on the books? The answer is permitting, access to the grid, having enough people to do it, and market structures.
Tom Steyer, Co-Executive Chair of Galvanize Climate Solutions

The panel closed with Augustine, Holliday, and Steyer, all who have held comparable leadership positions, providing the Under Secretary with advice about how to be successful in his position.

There will be some failures. Don’t spend your time picking at the failures of the past, get on with all the things that are going to succeed.
Norm Augustine, Retired Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin
You’ve been preparing your whole life for this job. Go do what you think is right, and call on your friends in the private sector to help you make it happen.
Chad Holliday, Former Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell

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