President-elect Joseph Biden announced on December 15 that he intends to nominate former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to serve as secretary of energy in his new administration. Ms. Granholm previous served as the attorney general of Michigan and as Michigan’s governor from 2003 to 2011.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has a wide purview, including oversight of the nation’s energy supply and its 17 national laboratories, nuclear security, and the advancement of energy-efficiency research and research energy development. Of course, DOE is also expected to play a critical role in meeting the president-elect’s electric vehicle (EV) goals, which include the installation of a nationwide charging network of 500,000 chargers and increasing consumer purchases of EVs.
President-elect Biden’s announcement is encouraging for those anticipating more support for the development and deployment of EV technology and EV-related infrastructure. Transportation is the largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitting sector in the United States, and as such, achieving President-elect Biden’s goal of net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 depends on widespread electrification of the transportation industry. Currently, EV sales account for approximately 2% of new car sales, and there are only 100,000 or so chargers nationwide—of those, around 30% are located in California.
Ms. Granholm may be particularly well suited for overseeing efforts to increase EVs in the transportation industry. As a two-term governor of Michigan, Granholm has significant experience dealing with the auto industry. She advocated for the development of EV technology and clean energy supply chains in Michigan to preserve the state’s industrial base following the Great Recession in 2007. In 2016 Ms. Granholm joined the board of directors of ChargePoint, an EV infrastructure company that operates the largest network of independently owned EV charging stations, and also serves on the board of Proterra, a company that manufactures heavy-duty electric buses.