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Jennifer Granholm

Two-Term Michigan Gov. Granholm to Head Biden DOE

Dec. 22, 2020
Jennifer Granholm, who served two terms as governor of Michigan, was selected by President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition team to lead the Department of Energy

Jennifer Granholm, who served two terms as governor of Michigan, was selected by President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition team to lead the Department of Energy, according to reports.

Granholm was involved in the Barack Obama transition team in 2009 and also joined Obama’s economic advisory team. Her name was on a short list for an Obama Supreme Court pick, as Granholm is a professor of law and public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. Before becoming governor, Granholm was attorney general of Michigan.

Former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigeig was selected to serve as secretary of transportation. Head of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Michael Regan will serve as EPA head.

Granholm has also been involved with the Dow Chemical Company in 2011, shipbuilder and defense contractor Marinette Marine Corp. in 2011, and Michigan finance bank Talmer Bancorp in 2013.

Some of Granholm’s energy experience comes from her tenure on the board at ChargePoint (Granholm joined in August 2016), a maker of electric vehicle charging stations, and at Proterra (joined in March 2017), a maker of electric buses.

Granholm’s name was floated as a possible pick to head the DOE first when Obama was elected, and then when Obama’s first energy secretary, Stephen Chu, decided to step down. He instead chose nuclear physicist and fossil fuel consultant Ernest Moniz.

The secretary of energy is responsible for guiding US energy policy, regulations on oil and gas, as well as looking after the nation’s nuclear stockpile, including nuclear reactors, warheads and waste.

Chu and Moniz, the last energy secretaries to serve under a Democratic president, spent their tenures focusing on ways to support renewable energy projects with loan guarantees, encourage research into clean energy technology and continuing to defend natural gas as a “bridge fuel,” a term Biden himself has used.

Under President Donald Trump the DOE was led by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and then Deputy Energy Secretary and Ford Motor Co. former Dan Brouillete stepped in to replace him in December 2019.

Whistleblowers in the Trump DOE’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy told the press they had been prohibited from using phrases such as “climate change” or “emissions reduction.” The DOE at the time denied this.

Biden, the incoming president, said his administration will use executive orders to make progress on climate change, and push for a net zero-emission energy sector by 2050 in Congress. He has also said the US will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, which Trump withdrew from.

Other pieces of the Biden energy policy that Granholm may be involved with are the promised $400 billion investment in clean energy, as well as deploying clean energy to power the US economy.

“Biden will set a target of reducing the carbon footprint of the U.S. building stock 50% by 2035, creating incentives for deep retrofits that combine appliance electrification, efficiency, and on-site clean power generation. He will work with our nation’s governors and mayors to support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets by the end of 2030,” according to the Biden website.

About the Author

Jeff Postelwait | Senior Editor

Jeff Postelwait is a writer and editor with a background in newspapers and online editing who has been writing about the electric utility industry since 2008. Jeff is senior editor for T&D World magazine and sits on the advisory board of the T&D World Conference and Exhibition. Utility Products, Power Engineering, Powergrid International and Electric Light & Power are some of the other publications in which Jeff's work has been featured. Jeff received his degree in journalism news editing from Oklahoma State University and currently operates out of Oregon.

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