Obama energy secretary launches nonprofit

The former energy secretary under President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos Clarifying the power of federal agencies could offer Trump a lasting legacy Dems allow separation of parents, children to continue, just to score political points MORE is launching a new nonprofit organization focused on studying advancements in the energy field.

Ernest MonizErnest Jeffrey MonizPope to meet with oil execs to discuss climate change: report Rick Perry's travel cost Energy Department ,560 during first 7 months in office: report Iran deal on the line as Trump nears deadline MORE, who taught physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for decades before becoming energy secretary in 2013, is heading up the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) along with two high-level staffers from his time at the Department of Energy (DOE).

“The energy system has been evolving at an incredible clock speed over these last years, something unprecedented, really, in the history of the energy sector. This is providing opportunities and challenges, from addressing global warming and climate change to new challenges in energy security, to looking at energy development through new technologies,” Moniz said in a video released Wednesday to mark the launch of the organization.

“The answers, of course, are going to rely on innovation. In technology innovation, in business model innovation and in policy innovation. And that’s what we want to do at EFI, is to address this innovation challenge across the board.”

Moniz told Axios that the group’s first project will be a study of the state of the electric grid, and what changes to the grid like the explosive growth of wind and solar power mean for its security.

That research comes as Rick Perry, Moniz’s successor at DOE, is working on a similar study. Advocates for renewable energy believe that, based on Perry’s request for the study and how it is being conducted, DOE is looking to prove that wind and solar are pushing baseload power sources like coal and nuclear off the grid, threatening reliability and security.

“I can assure you that what we produce will be analytical and transparent,” Moniz told Axios. On Perry’s study, he said, “We don’t compare notes.”

Moniz’s new organization will be funded largely by organizations and companies who commission its work.

The other people involved with the group so far are Melanie Kenderdine, who led DOE’s office of energy policy and systems analysis, and Joseph Hezir, who was its chief financial officer.