Frenetic Energy

Energy sector under the new administration

Transition is a hot word right now, so people had better get used to seeing it for the next few weeks. In the case of the many dimensions of the energy industry, there are holes to be filled, questions to be answered, and fortifications to be prepared.

New Secretary of Energy

Per the latest reports, those under consideration for Secretary of Energy include another Donald—Hoffman—59th president of the American Nuclear Society and a Navy veteran; Harold Hamm, an Oklahoma oil tycoon and leading proponent of fracking, and North Dakota Rep. Kevin Cramer, an early Trump supporter from a major oil drilling state. Venture capitalist Robert Grady, who worked in President George H.W. Bush’s administration, is listed as a contender to lead both the Energy and Interior Departments. Former Texas governor and two-time presidential candidate Rick Perry’s name came up today as well, with a dose of irony.

Wind and solar say they won’t die with new admin.

Renewable energy sources are widely expected to take a serious hit with the new administration, but CEOs in the forum swear that isn’t the case. The two largest slices of the renewable energy pie—wind power and solar—made a case almost immediately following election results that they have built up enough momentum over the past three decades to sustain themselves. A determined but measured “we can’t be stopped” mentality seems to be exuding from members of the industry.

Both solar and wind content they have resilient market strength. “Wind is now below $25/MWh in the Midwest and the West and solar is under $45/MWh or lower in some places in the Southwest and the South and most forecasts agree improving technologies will continue to drive those prices down,” former Colorado Public Utilities Commission Chair Ron Binz, now president of Public Policy Consulting, told Utility Dive. “That is an independent driver that nobody in Washington is going to upset.”

Sunnova CEO John Berger, whose company is a rooftop solar provider, echoed the firm stance. “It is fundamentally not true that the solar and wind industries need the support of the federal government,” he told Utility Dive’s Herman Trabish on Tuesday.

Oil and Gas

As written last week, players in the oil and gas sector are most likely salivating. Robert Rapier of Forbes wrote Monday that “one area where [the new administration] is likely to have an immediate impact is in the midstream oil and gas business.” Midstream businesses are those that move oil and gas from the site of production to processing plants, storage facilities, and end customers. Midstream consists largely of the oil and gas pipelines that crisscross underneath North America. Many expect fracking and pipeline construction to increase significantly, as for the role of the EPA to be diminished, and carbon taxes to be scaled back, if not completely derailed. Uncertainty reigns, however, during this unpredictable transition period, and just like the potential Secretary of Energy candidates, predictions seem to change with every day. Buckle up.


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