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Secretary of Energy visits ORNL; talks gas prices, clean energy future

The Secretary of Energy visited ORNL, which is considered the largest Department of Energy Lab in the country.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — The U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Monday, Nov. 22.

After a tour of ORNL, which is considered the largest Department of Energy lab in the country, Granholm said she and President Joe Biden are working to lower gas prices. 

"Although no president, unfortunately, controls the price of gas, every one of them wishes they could," Granholm said. "But he has some tools."

Granholm said "hopefully" the president would have more on the "tools" he would be using this week. 

Granholm said she and the president are sensitive to high gas prices. 

"I noticed you in Tennessee, your prices are actually below the national average, but that's certainly not true across the country," Granholm said.

The Energy Secretary said prices are so high because suppliers haven't produced enough fossil fuels to catch up to the demand after COVID-19 shutdowns. 

She said in the short term, she would like to lower the price of gas, but in the long term, the Biden Administration would like to transition to clean energy. 

The Administration's goal is 100% clean energy by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Granholm said. 

"The strategy is to double down on building for the clean energy future so we don't have to rely upon the volatility of the fossil fuel industry," Granholm said. "This is a transition. It's not an on-off switch."

Granholm highlighted technology ORNL is researching, like charging electric cars wirelessly while they're driving and creating a smarter energy grid. 

The Energy Secretary pointed to the battery research at ORNL that would make electric cars the same price as gas-powered cars. 

She said ORNL's research is critical to make sure the U.S. leads on clean energy. 

"We want to build those products here, we want to stamp them made in America," Granholm said. 

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