Sec. Moniz Covers Full Range of Energy Department Work in Daily Show Appearance

In his May 6 appearance on Comedy Central’s Daily Show, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz addressed both the military and civilian energy issues that the Department of Energy is responsible for. His discussion with host Jon Stewart ranged from the recent negotiations with Iran over that nation’s capability to enrich fissile material to domestic energy infrastructure.

Though the broadcast portion of the interview focused on the Iranian nuclear talks, the extended interview also addressed current U.S. energy resources, efficiency gains (and plans for more), and infrastructure.

When Stewart shifted to domestic power-related concerns, he asked, “I feel like we’ve been on the edge of an energy breakthrough for quite some time, but we still can’t get past the combustion engine. . . . What is that energy revolution? Is it batteries, like an Elon Musk would say? . . . What is it that’s going to be the revolution?” Moniz responded, “I believe we are actually in the revolution.”

“The costs of these clean technologies have been dropping incredibly,” the secretary noted, giving the example of LED bulbs, as he looked around the studio.

When the discussion turned to infrastructure, Stewart said he feels as if we’re living with 21st century technology but “early 20th century infrastructure.” Moniz granted that “Infrastructure is a big deal. We just did a huge report on that.”

The first part of that report, the Quadrennial Energy Review, was released on April 21, the day William F. Hederman Jr., DOE deputy director for energy systems and integration and senior advisor to the secretary, discussed it in his keynote presentation to the 2015 ELECTRIC POWER Conference & Exhibition.

Stewart also asked about the smart grid: “Why is that such a difficult effort to get off the ground?” Moniz responded, “It’s actually happening,” with the deployment of “a lot of IT” being added to the transmission and distribution grids, forming the “core” of the smart grid. He also gave the example of a microgrid being developed in New Jersey. “How will Governor Christie use it to punish his enemies?” Stewart quipped. Moniz responded, “No comment.”

Gail Reitenbach, PhD, Editor (@GailReit, @POWERmagazine)