The U.S. Department of Energy has named Jim Lazar, a senior advisor at the Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), to serve on its Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC). He follows Richard Cowart, a RAP director and principal, who recently served six years as the committee’s chair.
As a member of the committee, Mr. Lazar will help the department define a strategy on long-range planning and priorities for the nation’s electricity system. He joins 31 other members, including state government officials, industry executives, consumer advocates, and environmentalists charged with providing advice on implementing the Energy Policy Act of 2005, executing the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, and modernizing the nation’s electricity delivery infrastructure.
Mr. Cowart was appointed EAC’s chair in 2010 by then-Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and was reappointed by Secretary Ernest Moniz, serving the maximum term of six years. He stepped down from the committee in June.
“I am delighted that Jim will continue to deliver RAP’s expertise on this important committee and bring our perspective on how the United States can move toward a clean, efficient, and reliable energy future,” Mr. Cowart said. “Jim is a brilliant analyst, insightful and creative, and will make a strong contribution to this high-level group of very experienced energy experts.”
During Mr. Cowart’s tenure, the EAC delivered numerous reports and recommendations on the department’s work on key aspects of smart grids, distributed energy, and power delivery—all essential elements for transforming the U.S. power sector away from one dominated by large-scale fossil resources to a more flexible system with a much smaller environmental footprint, while containing costs and maintaining reliability. The EAC also held public inquiry sessions addressing concerns that tighter emissions rules under the Clean Air Act and new carbon reductions under the Clean Power Plan would impair electric reliability. Not finding wide-scale reliability impacts, the EAC recommended a process by which the department could assist the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to resolve any reliability concerns, should they arise in particular cases.
Susan Tierney, the current chair of the EAC, expressed appreciation for both Mr. Cowart’s and Mr. Lazar’s service.
“The EAC was fortunate to have had the benefits of Richard’s deep expertise, sound judgment, engaging collaborative style, and consistent intellectual leadership for so many years,” said Ms. Tierney, who is an expert on energy policy and economics, with extensive experience in both the public and private sectors. “We already miss him and appreciate his generous service.” She noted that the EAC is glad to welcome Mr. Lazar to the committee. “It’s wonderful to have another extraordinary expert joining the group,” she said.
Mr. Lazar, who has worked closely with RAP since 1998, is the principal author of several handbooks and articles on rate design, renewable energy integration, consumer participation in electric utility planning, integrated resource planning, and incentive regulation. He has authored or co-authored seminal RAP publications, such as Electricity Regulation in the US: A Guide, Teaching the Duck to Fly, and Smart Rate Design for a Smart Future.
Congress established the EAC in 2008 as an official body to advise DOE on electricity policy, programs, and initiatives, issues concerning the current and future electricity system, as well as to coordinate among U.S. energy industry actors.