The Center on Global Energy Policy hosted its fourth episode of Columbia Energy Straight Talk, a discussion series hosted by David Hill, CGEP Adjunct Senior Research Scholar, and Cheryl LaFleur, CGEP Distinguished Visiting Fellow. This series focuses on frank, practical, bipartisan discussions on how to make change happen in the energy world. The hosts bring decades of energy experience in the public and private sectors, including David's service as General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Energy and Cheryl's as Commissioner and Chairman at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
In this fourth episode of Straight Talk, the hosts discussed the role of public power entities and hydroelectricity in bringing about America's energy future. According to the Energy Information Administration, there are more than 2500 public power (municipal and cooperative) utilities providing electricity to more than 40 million customers over more than half the nation’s landmass. Federal power marketing administrations and state power authorities control most of the nation’s 100,000 MW of hydroelectric generation, by far the nation’s largest source of renewable energy. They also own and operate a vast network of transmission and distribution lines to deliver power to their customers. Despite the number and reach of public power entities, the role of public power in the nation’s energy transition at all levels–generation, transmission, and distribution–often does not receive the attention it deserves.
For this discussion, Cheryl and David welcomed Gil Quiniones, President and CEO of the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and Steve Wright, General Manager of the Chelan County, WA Public Utility District, and former Administrator of the Federal Bonneville Power Administration. Mr. Quiniones has led NYPA, the nation's largest state-owned electric utility, since 2011 and has spearheaded many innovative clean energy initiatives during that time. Mr. Wright has led the Chelan PUD since 2013, and before that was with the BPA for 32 years, the last 12 of which he served as administrator. Both at Chelan and BPA, Wright has worked with many different constituencies on contentious issues while ensuring reliable, carbon-free, and low-cost service to customers.