For Immediate Release, October 15, 2020

Contact:

Alison Borochoff-Porte, (202) 599-6223, aborochoffporte@biologicaldiversity.org

Lawsuit Seeks Department of Energy Documents on Industry Influence Over Grid Resilience Model

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Department of Energy today for failing to release records about the agency’s collaboration with utility companies and the fossil fuel industry on an important, publicly funded study about the reliability and resiliency of North America’s power grid.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., concerns the North American Energy Resilience Model, an agency initiative that aims to model and assess North America’s grid vulnerabilities. The Center is seeking the records, in part, to shed light on how corporate interests, including utilities and the gas industry, may be shaping the model and study, especially regarding grid improvements that could ensure a clean energy transition.

“The Department of Energy is withholding documents that could reveal whether fossil fuel interests have biased this important assessment of our energy future,” said Center attorney Alison Borochoff-Porte. “Given the urgency of the climate crisis, the public has a right to know how involved corporate interests have been in shaping this.”

The country’s reliance on gas, including fracked gas, is worsening the climate crisis because of carbon dioxide released through combustion, as well as methane leakage. Renewable energy sources, particularly distributed solar energy, can provide a wide range of grid benefits that are often overlooked. For example, solar paired with storage or as part of a community microgrid can improve resilience to climate change-linked storms, fires and heat waves.

Yet there is little public information about the taxpayer-funded North American Energy Resilience Model, which aims to identify potential infrastructure investments that could set the course for the nation’s power grid for the next generation. The Center requested the documents under the Freedom of Information Act more than a year ago, but the Department of Energy has failed to produce any documents in response.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.