By Carla Frisch, Acting Executive Director and Principal Deputy Director, DOE’s Office of Policy
By all accounts, 2021 was a year of momentous firsts and milestones for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) where we’re working on behalf of Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm and the greater Biden-Harris Administration to tackle the climate crisis; create good-paying, union jobs; and usher in a more secure, equitable clean energy future for all Americans.
The DOE’s Office of Policy works in coordination with the White House, providing policy analysis to determine, for example, how many jobs a new policy will create, how much a program will slash emissions, and how new energy research can help us combat climate change and create the clean energy technologies of tomorrow.
The policies and programs we’re helping to inform will improve the lives of Americans—the truck driver who drives an electric delivery truck, the elementary school student with asthma in a low-income community whose bus to school and school building itself will be cleaner and healthier, and the community college student who is primed for a new, well-paying job in wind turbine manufacturing.
There are many accomplishments to highlight from the Office of Policy team for 2021, but a few of the most notable include:
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
DOE and the Office of Policy worked closely with Congress as it developed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, providing timely, technical expertise to help inform the law and its provisions. This historic law provides long overdue investments in our nation’s infrastructure, workers, families, and competitiveness, and includes $62 billion for DOE to propel the United States towards a 100% carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero economy by 2050. The law will stand up 60 new DOE programs, including 16 demonstration and 32 deployment programs, and expands funding for 12 existing Research, Development, Demonstration, and Deployment programs. This new once-in-a-generation law allows DOE to, among many things, help more Americans lower their utility bills through the Weatherization Assistance Program; increase grid security and resilience in the face of extreme weather events and cyber attacks; revitalize our domestic supply chain for critical minerals and materials that will produce the next-generation of batteries for low- and zero-emissions cars, trucks, and buses; and test the clean energy technologies of the future at scale. In 2022, the Office of Policy—together with other offices within DOE and across the U.S. government—will be at the forefront of the implementation process, playing a key role in tracking and measuring the successes of these investments.
The office supported the launch of Communities: Local Energy Action Program (LEAP)—a first-of-its-kind program that will help environmental justice communities and communities with historical ties to fossil fuel industries access the economic and environmental benefits of clean energy and clean energy manufacturing. The program will provide services up to $16 million to help develop community-driven plans to more effectively leverage public and private sector resources to reduce local air pollution, increase energy resilience, lower utility costs and energy burdens, and create good-paying jobs. The Office of Policy is looking forward to announcing, in the first half of 2022, the Communities LEAP participants and working with them to advance their clean energy future.
In March, the Office of Policy released the 2021 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER), taking back management control of the crucial analysis that provides a comprehensive overview of the energy labor market and highlights the trends and skillsets needed for a 21st century clean energy workforce. In 2021, we also partnered with colleagues to launch the DOE Labor Working Group, a forum for DOE and labor unions to engage on key energy topics. We are already hard at work preparing for the release of the 2022 USEER and helping administer the Interagency Energy Jobs Council, as directed by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
Long-Term Climate Strategy
With the White House, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and others, the Office of Policy helped deliver the nation’s climate strategy through 2050. The Long-Term Climate Strategy, which the Office of Policy played a key role in developing, lays out how the United States can reach its ultimate goal of net-zero emissions no later than 2050, and was released by President Biden in November at the Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow. The actions detailed in the Long-Term Strategy to combat the climate crisis will positively impact Americans today and for generations to come. Reducing air pollution through clean energy will improve the health of children and families in every community while investments in emerging clean energy technologies will spark economic growth and create millions of high-quality jobs for American workers.
Supply Chain Resilience
A strong, resilient energy supply chain will position the United States to unlock the full potential of a clean energy economy. Within the solar, wind, hydropower, fuel cell, semiconductor, and other clean energy arenas, there are incredible opportunities and surmountable challenges. In December, the Office of Policy released a Supply Chain Request For Information (RFI) to better inform the Department’s plans to revitalize a diverse, resilient, and competitive energy sector supply chain. The information provided through this request—in addition to extensive research DOE is conducting with feedback from the White House and other federal agencies—will help DOE develop policy recommendations to transform our domestic supply chain to accelerate U.S. leadership in new energy technologies. Responses to the RFI are due January 15, 2022.
In 2022, the Office of Policy will publish 14 comprehensive energy supply chain reports with actionable policy strategies to bolster America’s energy supply chains and develop a world-class American manufacturing base and workforce. The reports will address several key questions, including how the U.S. can access the materials needed for new and existing clean energy technologies; how to develop and train a strong clean energy workforce; and whether consumers are being encouraged to adopt or resist new clean technologies.
The Office of Policy Team
The Office of Policy grew its team of talented policy and analytical experts and staff in 2021. We’re looking forward to recruiting more top talent in 2022 as we work to respond to the country’s most pressing energy policy challenges. In November, we launched a new website that details our policy initiatives and focus areas, along with recent publications, opportunities, and important announcements.
The Office of Policy is proud of all we’ve accomplished this year, and we can’t wait to continue this important work in the new year to help facilitate a pathway to a 100% clean and more equitable energy economy!