Is electrification—or re-electrification—a viable means of rail propulsion, particularly for North American freight rail? In this first of a two-part series, Jim Hoecker and Steve Griffith of the Rail Electrification Council describe the organization’s mission and objectives, and discuss what’s happening with respect to the broader electricity grid.
How will the grid’s transition away from fossil fuels affect the railroads? What are the potential effects of electrification on the railroads? Why should railroads plan to electrify? Are there lessons to be learned from rail electrification in Europe and the Far East? Is there a current example of a rail road right-of-way being used to support transmission development? What is the the role of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in transmission planning and siting? Are there any policies or funding that can prompt the railroads to electrify? Hoecker and Griffith discuss these questions with Railway Age Editor-in-Chief William C. Vantuono.
Veteran energy advocate, public policymaker, author and speaker and organizational innovator Jim Hoecker’s 40-year career has been dedicated to helping industry and policymakers achieve commercial success consistent with timely and responsible business innovation. Currently Senior Counsel and Energy Strategist at Husch Blackwell LLP and Principal of Hoecker Energy Law & Policy PLLC, Jim was Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner and Chairman from 1993 to 2001, FERC Assistant General Counsel, Gas and Oil Litigation, and former Lead Director of an eastern public utility. He is Co-Founder with NEMA (National Electrical Manufacturers Association) and Counsel of the Rail Electrification Council, a collaborative manufacturers, rail-related companies and electric power producers on railroading’s contribution to a clean energy, economic strength, grid integration and the emerging transportation-electricity ecosystem. Jim is also Founder and President of IPRO (International Pipeline Resilience Organization), which advocates for a collaborative approach to oil and natural gas pipeline cybersecurity; Founder and Executive Director of WIRES LLC (2005-2019), promoting electric transmission investment and clean energy, and a director of nonprofit North American Freight Forum, part of OnTrack North America.
Steve Griffith is Executive Director of NEMA’s Transportation Systems Division. He manages sections within this division in such areas as Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment, Rail Electrification, Automotive Components, and Imaging & Communications. He is also the principle staff liaison for NEMA’s Cybersecurity and co-lead for NEMA’s Energy Transition Campaign, leading and defining common approaches to standardization, guidelines and architecture development while enabling connectivity, defining and simplifying interoperability, and safeguarding privacy and cybersecurity in electrotechnical and medical imaging products. Steve has more than 25 years’ experience in program/project management, including a Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification. Before joining NEMA, he managed projects for various Department of Defense facilities and the Transportation Security Administration.