Meeting of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board

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Publication date: 
4 August 2011

“Pay  attention to this.  This is a big deal,”  Energy Secretary Steven Chu told the members of the Secretary of Energy  Advisory Board (SEAB) at its July 20 meeting.   Chu was commenting on the forthcoming Quadrennial Technology Review  (QTR)  that will be the basis for a long term plan for energy.  The board gave an enthusiastic response to  the QTR that is being conducted under the leadership of Under Secretary for  Science Steven Koonin.  DOE will submit  the QTR to the White House early this month, and release it to the public in  mid-September. 

This  was the fourth meeting of SEAB since it was reestablished by the Obama Administration.   SEAB’s charter states: “The Board will  provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy on the  Department's basic and applied research and development activities, economic  and national security policy, educational issues, operational issues and any  other activities and operations of the Department of Energy as the Secretary  may direct.”  SEAB currently has 14  members.

The  agenda for this all-day meeting was wide-ranging.  In opening remarks Chu described the more  business-like approach the department is taking in the management of its  programs.  The secretary praised ARPA-E  as a model for the department to follow, and described progress that DOE has  made. 

“Things  have gone quite well” ARPA-E Director Arun Majumdar told the Board. He spoke of  the many hours he has spent on Capitol Hill, and how he views the House’s  recent vote to continue level funding in FY 2012 as an indication of bipartisan  support for the agency.    Majumdar wants to increase coordination between his agency, the Office of  Science, and DOE’s applied programs.  He  cited the Sunshot Initiative as an example of this approach.        Other  topics covered during the meeting included progress the Office of Environmental  Management has made in remediating radioactive waste which will likely extend  for the next 40-50 years and cost a quarter-trillion dollars.  SEAB members were also briefed on Small  Modular Reactors; a subcommittee examining transportation, building efficiency,  and improving the electrical grid; a forthcoming study on natural gas  production; and a study on improving technology transition.  There was no direct discussion regarding the  Office of Science.

SEAB’s  next meeting will be October 12, 2011 at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Note:  the next FYI will be issued the week of August 22.