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Alison Williams | May 2019

20 May 2019 10:01 AM | Anonymous member

Director, State Energy and Regulatory Policy, EEI

Affiliation and years of experience in the energy/environmental field: I’m the Senior Director of State Energy & Regulatory Policy at the Edison Electric Institute, the trade association for the nation’s investor-owned electric companies. I’ve worked at EEI for three years, but I’ve worked on energy and environmental issues for nearly 15 years.

Any particular achievement/interest in energy/environment you would like to mention? My greatest accomplishment in the energy/environment field isn’t a title or an accolade, but rather an ability to evaluate energy issues holistically. I started my career in DC working on environment and natural resources, moved on to focus on energy and climate issues broadly, then spent some time focused on oil and gas before making my way to EEI, where I focus exclusively on electric utilities. In that time, I worked for think tanks, in government and consulting, and now at a trade association. The diversity of issues I’ve worked on, as well as the breadth of organizations I’ve had the pleasure of working at, has taught me to seek out connections across issues. I do this by asking questions. How, for example, will a shift in environmental policy impact another seemingly unrelated aspect of the energy industry? Or how might a shift in natural gas markets ripple through the utility sector in five, ten or more years out? Nothing is simple in this field. And nothing happens in a vacuum. I am best at my job when I try to understand the far-reaching and often undiscussed impacts of energy issues. Almost without fail, my attempt to learn more makes me realize how much I have yet to learn -- and that is a good thing.

In your opinion, what are important issues facing the energy industry nowadays? In grad school, I had a professor who provided some words of caution before I went to work for the Department of Energy: “Prepare yourself to have zero impact for at least ten years.” And then the Recovery Act passed and DOE found itself busier than it had been in many years. I think of this advice often because I have yet to experience it. We are truly living in a period of radical change for the energy industry. On an individual level, our relationship with energy is wildly different than it was just a few years ago. We have new energy technologies and devices. New energy services and service providers. New ways of interacting with our own energy data. Unquestionably, these changes are good! Choice is good! But we must not forget to balance change in the electric industry against other, equally important priorities such as electric reliability, resiliency, and – importantly – equity.

How long have you been a member of NCAC? Any particular NCAC memory you would like to share with us? I have been a member of NCAC for more than a decade. I still remember the first lunch I attended with the amazing and brilliant Shirley Neff, who introduced me to NCAC. I remember sitting upstairs at the old Chinatown Garden and being overwhelmed by the incredible intelligence in the room. I still feel that way, of course, but now I know many of the people around the tables. Attending the lunches always feels a bit like a class reunion.

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