Chief of Staff, Senior Advisor - Nuclear Energy
US Department of Energy
Apr 21, 2020
1) 0:24 - How Suzanne went from politics to energy
Suzanne talks about her start in politics where she initially was doing communications for fossil fuels before her boss encouraged her to to help the company out with the government interactions. She developed a network among politicians in Indiana. After working in government affairs, she saw how state legislatures can impact local businesses. In an effort to keep Indiana friendly to business, she ran for state Senate, and while she didn’t win - the experience opened a lot of doors for her in politics. She then found herself running the presidential campaign for Carly Fiorina for Indiana, and eventually was running the primary campaign for President Trump in Indiana. When the election ended, this gave her the opportunity to work in Washington, D.C. and she was able to get a career working in the Department of Energy which she felt compelled to work for because she knew how important energy was to “freedom and prosperity.”
2) 6:08 - How the Indiana’s economics and energy affected each other:
While working on presidential campaigns, Suzanne dealt directly with many people working in the energy industry and developed a new appreciation for how important their contributions are. She saw how the electricity generated in Indiana was so much more abundant and affordable than it was in other states and as a result - she saw directly how that allowed businesses in Indiana to thrive and have a far greater productivity. And when she was working in Washington, D.C. Secretary Perry directed her to help “make nuclear cool again.” In order to do that, this required a paradigm shift and education to the public at large. As such, Suzanne helped develop a coalition of advocates, scientists and experts across the field and realized that nuclear is critical to a clean energy future. Suzanne also recognized the intersection between modern technology and nuclear and how they came together at “the right time.”
9:55 - 3) Bringing energy security to the U.S. and around the world
Suzanne talks about how energy security can help give countries freedom from being affected by politics and global events. She recognizes that much of our energy is a product that has to be transported. While in the United States we’ve not worried about energy for a while, it wasn’t long ago that we did have a fuel crisis. To her, energy security means you don’t have to worry about where your energy is coming from, and that no other nation can cut off our energy. The United States has been sheltered from these kinds of threats to our energy because of our own innovations in the energy sector and Suzanne wants the United States to extend their energy security to other nations because she sees that as a critical factor in helping other nations strengthen their democracy.
4) What is the best way to help provide energy security? 13:00
The best way to provide energy independence is through innovation, technology, and a reasonable regulatory environment. Suzanne talks about how the right amount of regulation doesn’t stifle innovation and allows the necessary flexibility to develop these steps forward and how the current administration is about easing regulations. And she recognizes that nuclear is the only source of energy today that meets all the criteria for a clean energy future. Bret and Suzanne discuss how nuclear is a fuel source that can last for years and remove the insecurity of relying on daily or weekly deliveries from other sources. Suzanna talks about the Auroa reactor and how that uses spent fuel, further increasing the efficiency, and how there are other nuclear plants that are eliminating the risk of meltdowns. The Department of Defense is also developing mobile nuclear reactors.
5) 16:47 - What is the Department of Energy doing to help communicate about nuclear energy?
Suzanne talks about IFNEC a 65 country government to government network composed of experts all over the industry. The goal of IFNEC is to work together to advance the positive benefits of nuclear energy and Suzanne is the Senior Advisor of Policy and Communications for IFNEC. IFNEC is a global organization but has recently hosted a major gathering in order to reinforce the United States commitment and focus on nuclear as a viable energy source.
6) 20:40 - Where is nuclear in 15 years?
Suzanne predicts that the industry will look very different than today - the stigma around nuclear will be gone because the younger generation doesn’t resist it as much. She also has faith in younger generation and their interest in learning about that technology and how it can help enhance the environment and provide clean solutions. The technology will also be very different - there will be a different focus on smaller and more efficient to develop, deploy and finance. It will be cheaper, more affordable, and more reliable than ever before.