In accordance with President Obama’s 2014 Memorandum establishing the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), the Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced it will begin the second installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review (QER 1.2) aimed at developing findings and policy recommendations to help guide the modernization of the nation’s electric grid. According to DOE’s briefing memorandum, QER 1.2 will focus on ensuring the electric grid’s continued reliability, safety, security, affordability and environmental performance through 2040. It will include an analysis of the fundamental elements that comprise the electricity system, including end use, distribution, transmission, grid operations and planning, generation, markets, finance and security.

Stakeholders are invited to both provide their own views on key issues to be addressed, as well as to respond to any or all of the framing questions in their comments. Additional insights and recommendations for Federal action to address challenges and opportunities associated with modernizing the Nation’s electricity system are welcomed. Here is a snapshot of the Framing Questions for QER 1.2:

Distributed Energy Resources (DER): Demand Response, Distributed Generation and Distributed Energy Storage 

  • How should DER value streams be assessed from different perspectives—customer, utility and society? 
  • What are the major barriers to distributed generation deployment, including financial, technical, transactional and distribution system limitations? 
  • What policies and regulations enable demand response to support variable energy resources at utility scale?

Electricity Consumption and Energy Efficiency by Sector (residential, commercial, industrial, transportation) Status, Trends and Barriers

  • What levels and patterns of electricity consumption exist today and are forecasted for 2040 in the industrial, commercial, residential and transportation sectors?
  • What business models and methods of customer engagement have been most successful, or show he most promise, for deploying residential efficiency measures? What is the role of policy in facilitating these models and methods?  

Electricity Markets

  • What frameworks and metrics can characterize regional markets and degree of market regulation?
  • How have markets performed across different criteria since restructuring?
  • How can policy levers be employed to remove barriers in each type of market to facilitate policy goals? 
  • Are there barriers to cleaner and more efficient generation given cost of capital differences?  

Electricity Finance 

  • How sensitive are costs to inputs (commodity prices, construction costs, technology costs)?
  • How do costs change under alternate financial scenarios (interest/debt/capital)?
  • What are the end user cost distributions under alternate DG/centralized scenarios?

Electricity Valuation 

  • How are uncertainty and risk taken into account under electricity valuation practices?
  • What value streams do electricity technologies provide to the system that are or are not monetized (and to which stakeholders do they accrue)? 
  • Do grid operators and policymakers manage tradeoffs among value streams?

Jurisdiction and Regulations

  • How did existing jurisdictional boundaries and policies evolve? What are the authorities for oversight of the electricity system? What are the responsibilities vested at each level?
  • What policy levers that exist at each level that may be challenged by the growing blurring of jurisdictional lines?
  • Distribution-level planning is becoming increasingly important: DER requires utility planners to achieve better integration of transmission planning and distribution planning and coordination between the Feds and the states.  How do wholesale and retail markets complement each other (from a jurisdictional perspective)? 

Here is the schedule for public input meetings. You can visit the QER website for additional details.

Boston, Massachusetts–April 15, 2016

Salt Lake City, Utah–April 25, 2016

Des Moines, Iowa–May 6, 2016

Los Angeles, California–May 10, 2016

Austin, Texas (Date TBD)

Atlanta, Georgia (Date TBD)

All comments can be submitted here up to July 1, 2016.