Hoeven Presses Dept. of Energy to Build Partnerships Between Traditional and Renewable Energy Resources

Senator Cites Success in Bakken Shale as Example of Technology's Role in Increasing Domestic Energy Production

WASHINGTON – Citing examples from North Dakota’s energy industry, Senator John Hoeven said that the U.S. Department of Energy must do more to stimulate private investment in new technologies to get traditional and renewable energy sectors working together.

Hoeven, speaking at a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday, pressed U.S. Department of Energy Undersecretary for Science Dr. Steven Koonin for specific ways the agency’s programs can encourage and develop technologies to make these partnerships cost effective and spur domestic energy production 

Hoeven cited Empower North Dakota, the state’s comprehensive energy policy, as a key example of how to build a legal, tax and regulatory environment that encourages innovation and cooperation between traditional and renewable sectors. Empower North Dakota promotes partnerships between electrical utilities and wind developers, coal-based utilities and biofuels, and other traditional and renewable sectors. Department of Energy programs, said Hoeven, can play a key role in furthering similar relationships and cooperation across the nation.

“We need to get the traditional and renewable sector working together. We need to find ways to stimulate the private investment in new technologies that enable our fossil and renewable communities to work together. There’s real opportunity here,” said Hoeven.  

Koonin, who was in North Dakota this week for the Great Plains and EmPower ND Energy Expo, which Hoeven cosponsored, praised the cooperation of North Dakota’s energy industry and said that more must be done to improve understanding and dialogue between energy sectors on the national level. He said that the agency also must do a better job of recognizing opportunities for partnerships and innovations, and cited three examples that hold promise: partnering natural gas and wind, carbon capture and sequestration, and the beneficial use of coal ash.

“I was particularly impressed by the diversity of folks around the table [at the energy expo], industry, NGOs, and government discussing energy matters in what I thought was a very considered and productive way,” said Koonin. “I believe it starts with understanding and dialogue, which has been sorely absent in a lot of what we do in energy. There are legitimate ways in which traditional and new energy technologies can be working together, pairing renewables with gas and the fly ash example that I saw in North Dakota yesterday. I think we need to be on the lookout for those in the department and government and more generally promoting them.” 

Hoeven said coal ash recycling was a good example of the energy industry’s innovation and urged support for the Coal Residuals Reuse and Management Act of 2011, bipartisan legislation he is sponsoring to ensure the safe and effective disposal and recycling of coal ash. Hoeven’s bill ensures that coal ash, a byproduct of coal-fired electricity generation, can continue to be recycled as a building material.

Citing the technological advances that made oil recovery in the Bakken Shale commercially productive, Hoeven pushed the Department of Energy to spur similar innovations to make carbon capture and sequestration and other emerging practices economically viable. Hoeven also said that North Dakota provides a prime opportunity for the agency to develop these new energy technologies. 

“In North Dakota we have all the elements to do the carbon capture and sequestration,” said Hoeven. “That is very fertile ground for the Department of Energy to really go to work and figure this out.”