Representing some of the country’s largest power and utility companies, officials from PG&E, Southern California Edison, NextEra Energy, and the American Public Power Association yesterday shared their collective efforts to reduce emissions and provide affordable energy sources for consumers and businesses nationwide.
As part of National Clean Energy Week’s (NCEW) Policy Makers Symposium, an annual three-day forum that brings together the country’s leading energy experts, officials from the power and utility sectors provided an update on some of their work to meet consumers’ demand, invest in emerging decarbonization technologies, and harden the electric grid.
NextEra Energy Director of Sustainability and Environmental Policy Lauren Sher noted the company is “thinking about how we can have a net-zero carbon emissions grid to really create a launching pad for the rest of the economy to decarbonize.”
Sher pointed out that to have a 100 percent free carbon emissions grid, “We know we need to invest in technologies that may not be deployable today.” One such strategic investment the company is working towards: is a green hydrogen hub in Florida.
Utilities are critical in shepherding the clean energy transition and reducing emissions. Emily Fisher of Edison Electric Institute, who served as moderator, noted that as a whole, the power industry had made significant progress, reducing emissions “about 36% below 2005 levels as of the end of 2021,” – marking the largest reductions of any sector of the U.S. economy.
To achieve their respective companies’ net-zero goals, the panelists shared how they’re working to make the grid more reliable and flexible. Yvonne A. McIntyre, Vice President, Federal Affairs for PG&E Corporation, noted that the grid “will need to evolve to meet the needs of our system” as the country moves closer to electrified transportation.
American Public Power Association President and CEO Joy Ditto noted how it’s important to have as much of a diversified portfolio as possible so consumers can continue to power their homes and businesses in the face of extreme weather.
Erik Takayesu, senior vice president of asset strategy and planning for Southern California Edison, also discussed how the sector is addressing and mitigating cybersecurity risks.
Ensuring energy is clean, affordable, and reliable for consumers dominated the hour-long discussion. Each of the panelists agreed that collaboration between public and private stakeholders within the utility sector will make all the difference when it comes to decarbonization efforts and supporting consumers.