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Public Power Head: Carbon Copy Energy Policies Don’t Reduce Carbon

Sept. 8, 2023
John Di Stasio will speak more about utility opportunities and challenges during a Sept. 12 plenary session, “Road to Zero.”

The biggest problem with U.S. energy policy is its focus on process instead of results, said John Di Stasio, president of the Large Public Power Council (LPPC) in Washington, D.C. The association advocates for 28 utility members that serve over 30 million electric consumers in 22 states and Puerto Rico.

“I think it is critically important that federal and state policy focus on outcomes vs. prescriptive means and methods,” Di Stasio said. “There are many ways to significantly reduce carbon, so limiting resource or infrastructure choices will only serve to make the transition more difficult, costly and likely impact reliability.”

The next biggest problem? California is not Texas. Florida is not New York. Carbon copy policies do not reduce carbon intensity or transform the U.S. resource mix because regions and markets are different.

“Any national policy or regulation must consider the distinct regional differences based upon differing energy markets, available resources, weather patterns and state and consumer preferences,” Di Stasio said. “The federal government can establish a broad policy framework but needs to allow for significant flexibility in resource choices and the means employed to achieve stated goals.”

Di Stasio will speak more about utility opportunities and challenges during a Sept. 12 plenary session, “Road to Zero.” The session is part of the T&D World Live Conference in Sacramento, California.

“I would like the audience to think about the importance of having many paths to the same goals,” Di Stasio said.

Joining him for the discussion will be Lora Anguay, chief zero carbon officer at Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), and Teresa Hansen, vice president of energy content at Endeavor Business Media. The discussion will include how utilities are responding to environmental targets and regulations, effects on utilities and customers, and how the push for decarbonization influences utility infrastructure and long-range planning.

Di Stasio can speak about SMUD’s future and history. He joined SMUD’s contracts area in 1981.

“I spent 31 years at SMUD —16 as an executive, including six as the CEO,” he said.

Under Di Stasio’s leadership, SMUD kept its electric rates among the lowest in California while it launched one of the largest smart grid projects in the U.S.

Di Stasio has testified before the U.S. Congress and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on cybersecurity, transmission, infrastructure, reliability and environmental regulations. Outside the U.S., his energy advocacy has taken him to Bangladesh, Brazil, Botswana, India and Jordan. He is past president of the Northwest Public Power Association and the California Municipal Utility Association. He has served on the boards of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy and the American Public Power Association, and as a member of the North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s Members Representative Committee and GridWise Alliance’s Grid Infrastructure Advisory Council.

Di Stasio is a former Electric Light and Power Large Utility CEO of the Year and United States Energy Association Volunteer of the Year.

He enjoys travel, golf and a good glass of wine from his small, family winery in the Sierra Foothills. His time in the wine business and utilities have taught him to look toward results.

“I have managed through times of significant change and disruption,” Di Stasio said, “and that has taught me to stay focused on the outcome; nimble on the path.”

The T&D World Live Conference will be Sept. 12-14 in Sacramento. Registration, conference and event details are available on the conference website.

Kristen Wright is a journalist with more than 20 years’ experience covering global utilities, petroleum and policy. She is chief strategist at Kristen Wright Strategic Communications. Reach her at [email protected] and wrightkristenm on LinkedIn.

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