America's top energy official just came to Hartford. He was seeking input on New England's energy problems.
Ernest Moniz is working to craft the holy grail of U.S. energy policy. He's doing it, he said, by "bringing together colleagues across the government to look at energy in the context of our economic aspirations, our environmental concerns, and our security concerns."
Moniz, the U.S. Secretary of Energy, is on a listening tour at the orders of President Obama, bouncing around the country to meet with local leaders. On Monday, he was in Hartford, at the headquarters of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.
"Why are we doing that?" Moniz asked. "Because we know as we examine the energy infrastructure issues that will be the focus of this year's activity -- the transmission, storage, and distribution of energy -- we know those challenges are very regional in nature."
In Hartford, Moniz shared the stage with Representatives John Larson, Elizabeth Esty, DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee, and Governor Dannel Malloy. The governor told Moniz about a regional challenge he sees: expanding the state's gas infrastructure to eliminate price volatility.
"We experienced the consequences this winter. There were days when thousands of megawatts of natural gas generation in the northeast were not operating because they couldn't access gas fuel," Malloy said. " These natural gas supply constraints spiked the wholesale price of electricity to record highs."
Moniz said Malloy's input and all the other public comments he heard will inform a federal plan called the "Quadrennial Energy Review," which he says will be a roadmap that brings American energy into the 21st century.
The plan is due on the president's desk next January.
If you're wondering about Moniz's hair, a topic that has exploded on Twitter, the Secretary of Energy told The Boston Globe in February: "No one except my wife has cut my hair in decades. And she’s not a professional," he said. "It’s a big joke, and that’s okay."
"If it gets people interested in the Department of Energy," he added with a laugh, "it’s good."