Robert Powelson

Robert Powelson, a recent Commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission details his goals to improve the project permitting process (which he believes is unnecessarily burdensome to applicants) and to find ways to streamline other aspects of the regulatory process. This focus of Powelson’s fits well with the Trump White House’s effort to reduce Federal regulations across the board. Commissioner Powelson argues the Commission is a non-political entity and sees his specific role as serving as a check-and-balance on overbearing regulations which unreasonably impede progress.

Powelson posits that the implementation and use of more pipelines to transport oil, natural, gas, and their derivative products actually is a far more environmentally friendly way of moving natural resource products than depending on railways or trucks.

He highlights the need for Cyber Security to be a much higher priority and reveals it is “dominating the conversation” at the FERC, and every level of government, due to the vulnerability of our utilities and both the networks and grids which support them. Powelson emphasized that the FERC has prioritized this aspect of its regulatory review process and promotes the prevention of hacking by foreign and other agents seeking to disrupt U.S. systems by providing Cyber Security training and rigorous patrolling of utilities as well as state and regional government agencies to see how they have implements Cyber Security measures.

Powelson also notes how the U.S. Shale Gas Revolution has changed the Energy Equation in America and across the planet. “The way we generate transmit and distribute power is changing because of shale. We’re seeing the proliferation of natural gas development” resulting in greater Energy Security for America. He also lauds the progress being made on the non-fossil fuel front by emphasizing , “10% of our bulk power came from renewable energy…” and describing that accomplishment as a sea change which is just the beginning of a revolution being led by renewables in the electrical energy sector.

NOTES: (1) This program was recorded during Powelson’s tenure on the FERC. He then became the CEO of National Association of Water Companies (NAWC). (2) Aaron’s expertise in the Energy arena comes, in part, from consulting work he once did for the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Department of Energy, and other projects — including academic work — in the same subject areas.