Axios Pro: Energy Policy

March 20, 2024

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1 big thing: Granholm's grab bag of updates

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson-Pool/Getty Images

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm provided House appropriators today with timelines and key updates on nuclear fuel, hydrogen and transformers, Jael writes.

Why it matters: Her comments indicate how the administration will grapple with members' concerns about Russian uranium and the IRA.

Driving the news: Granholm told the Appropriations energy subcommittee that the administration would prefer to see a Russian enriched uranium ban enacted into law rather than done administratively.

  • She explained that the FY2024 funding bill specifies that DOE cannot "repurpose" money from the civil nuclear credit program for HALEU until the supplies are banned from Russia.
  • When subcommittee Chair Chuck Fleischmann said the law provided for administrative action as well as a law, Granholm said the administration is "concerned about the enduring nature" of an executive-only approach.
  • "I strongly hope and encourage that Congress does that [ban] so that we can move with alacrity," she said.

Zoom in: Expect a final energy efficiency rule on distribution transformers to be released before June, Granholm said.

  • The agency has been "working with industry" to respond to steel sector concerns, which Ranking Member Marcy Kaptur echoed.
  • "Adjustments have been made," Granholm said.

What she's saying: Graham was tight-lipped on the administration's hydrogen tax credit implementation. But she hinted, during an exchange with top Approps Democrat Rosa DeLauro, that changes may be coming.

  • DeLauro represents a state that is one of the most promising for hydrogen fuel cell development.
  • "Some concerns [have been] raised that the guidance as proposed may inadvertently create a disincentive to use clean energy to produce hydrogen," DeLauro said of the administration's plan for the 45V tax credit.

Granholm parried the inquiry with a bland remark — but did imply a possible shift in implementation strategy: "I look forward to seeing the rule finalized in a way that ensures we have a clean hydrogen economy."

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