Obama names picks for electricity, natural gas pipeline posts

The recent stimulus law provided $4.5 billion for the office, and last month DOE awarded $620 million for smart grid demonstration and energy storage projects nationwide.

The “smart grid” refers to technologies – such as sophisticated meters that enable consumers to curb power use – aimed at boosting efficiency, reliability, and integrating more renewable power sources into the system.

Obama also plans to nominate Larry Persily to be the federal coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects. His office is tasked with pushing forward a long-planned – and long-delayed – pipeline to bring large natural gas supplies from Alaska’s North Slope to markets in the lower 48 states.
 
Persily has worked on oil-and-gas issues for three state governors, and is currently an aide to Mike Hawker, a GOP member of Alaska’s state legislature, the White House said.

Two industry partnerships are vying to build the line – TransCanada and Exxon Mobil have formed one group, while BP and ConocoPhillips have a competing proposal.

Obama’s choice drew a cheer from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“I’ve known Larry for years. He has solid knowledge of oil and gas industry finance and the state’s regulatory process,” she said in a prepared statement. “More importantly, from his decades in Alaska he knows how vital it is that a gas line gets built so the state can quickly get its gas to market for the benefit of current and future Alaskans.”