Rep. Robinson discusses reliable and affordable energy sources and power grids at Senate confirmation hearing – Framingham SOURCE
By Ashlyn Kelly
WASHINGTON DC – Framingham State Rep. Maria Robinson answered questions about energy sources, cybersecurity and power grids from U.S. senators during a Senate Energy and Energy Committee confirmation hearing. natural resources today, February 8.
Rep. Robinson was nominated in September 2021 by President Biden to serve as Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Electricity.
After two hours of questions and testimony, no votes were taken at the meeting.
Committee chairman Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from Virginia, said he would allow committee members to submit additional questions to the candidates until Wednesday, Feb. 9, at 6 p.m.
Two other candidates were at the hearing this morning. Joseph DeCarolis has been appointed Administrator of the Energy Information Administration at the US Department of Energy and Laura Daniel-Davis has been appointed Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the US Department of the Interior.
Senators present at the hearing were Senators Manchin, Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Martin Heinrich (DN.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss), Mark Kelly (D-Arizona), Angus King Jr. (D- Maine), James Langford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.).
In her opening statement, Rep. Robinson said, “I believe in America’s ability to solve problems through technological development with smart investments and well-designed policies.”
“With new discoveries being made at a breakneck pace in the electricity industry, I want to make sure we meet the moment with flexible policies that can adapt to new technological advances,” she added. .
Senator Manchin asked Rep. Robinson what her position was on promoting reliable sources of energy rather than eliminating sources.
“I believe for the Office of Electricity, reliability is the number one concern and will be my primary concern for sustainment,” said Robinson, a chemical engineering graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“If confirmed, I will work to strengthen the network with additional research, development and investment,” Rep. Robinson told the digital outlet in an email.
Senator Cortez Masto asked Rep. Robinson to explain the improvements she would make to cybersecurity “with respect to interagency and intergovernmental collaboration and coordination, in order to maintain the security and reliability of our energy system.”
“We need to make sure that all sorts of contractors and utilities that work on the network implement basic cybersecurity hygiene, whether it’s just two-factor authentication or changing regular password, recognizing that we want to avoid as many zero-day opportunities for hackers as possible,” the Framingham resident said.
Senator Hirono said the bipartisan infrastructure bill allocates funds to “enhance network resilience against cyberattacks and extreme weather from climate change.”
“How would you ensure funds are spent correctly and on time so people see the benefits of affordable, reliable and clean energy? ” she asked.
“I am not aware of the internal deliberations of the Department of Energy, but I do know that it is one of the main objectives of the secretary to ensure that the department works closely with the states, the tribes, regions and municipalities – too many of whom have long-term projects that they would like to see funded, but haven’t had the opportunity to fund in the past,” said Rep. Robinson.
Senator Hickenlooper asked if Rep. Robinson would be able to work closely with states as they “seen developing – organizing wholesale electricity markets?”
Rep. Robinson, who was director of the wholesale markets program at Advanced Energy Economy, said this was something she was “especially excited to work on.
“Technical assistance from the state – and in particular on the western RTO [regional transmission organization] — is an area I worked on in a previous position,” she said. “I think we recognize that states may not be as well funded to do this type of analysis that needs to take place in order to make these important decisions and so I would be happy to work with all of you in states that are considering to join an RTO or develop a wholesale market with the resources of the Office de l’Electricité.
Senator Hickenlooper replied, “I think it’s exactly as you said – most states don’t have – not only the experience to do it, but they don’t have the computer modeling and the system in place to do this as easily as possible. ”
Rep. Robinson said she “hopes[s] this is the start of a solid partnership” between the Senate and the Office of Electricity, if confirmed.
Rep. Robinson leads the Massachusetts House of Representatives Clean Energy Caucus, leads the state of Massachusetts to the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, where she serves on the board, and is the sole legislator State on the EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee.
“It was truly an honor to be nominated by the president to serve,” she told SOURCE.
She was elected to the State House seat for Middlesex’s 6th District in 2018, to replace the late Rep. Chris Walsh. She is the first Korean-American to serve in the Massachusetts Legislature.
As part of the state’s redistricting plan, Rep. Robinson now resides in the 7th District House seat of Middlesex, along with the district’s current elected official, Jack Patrick Lewis. Rep. Robinson has said that if confirmed, she will step down from her Middlesex 6th District seat.
Ashlyn Kelly is a Spring 2022 SOURCE intern. She is a communication arts major with minors in political science and journalism at Framingham State University. When she’s not writing an article, you can usually find her in a theater.