IEEE-USA Energy Fly-Ins Help Lawmakers Understand Energy Policy from an Engineering Perspective

By Bill Williams

IEEE-USA Energy Fly-Ins Help Lawmakers Understand Energy Policy from an Engineering Perspective

On 17 and 18 May 2010, U.S. IEEE members converged on Capitol Hill to discuss energy policy with federal policy-makers.  They joined more than 30 energy professionals from  across the nation to participate in IEEE-USA’s second annual Energy Fly-In.

On the first day, IEEE-USA staff briefed fly-in participants on the status of energy legislation, an overview of the legislative process, and the ins-and-outs of conducting meetings with members of congress and legislative staff.  Armed with this information, participants then headed to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers to discuss energy policy, from both a technical engineering perspective as well as from a constituent’s perspective in their Representative’s or Senator’s district.

The success and impact of the fly-ins on energy policy are prompting IEEE-USA to consider making this an annual event.  In fact, planning is already underway for spring 2011.

As IEEE-USA Legislative Representative Russ Harrison pointed out to fly-in participants, “Personal visits are the best way to influence legislative outcomes.”  “Legislators appreciate hearing from voters back home,” said Harrison, “They assume that if voters make the effort to travel all the way to Washington, they must feel strongly about the issue. Politicians desperately want to know what issues are important to their voters, so they listen when you take the time to tell them.”

As a background document for these events, members were briefed on and delivered copies of IEEE-USA’s National Energy Policy Recommendations to their congressional representatives.  IEEE-USA’s Energy Policy Committee develops these recommendations, and then IEEE-USA’s Board of Directors adopts them.  The recommendations are updated yearly, and outline key actions and investments that IEEE-USA thinks are necessary to achieve such strategic national goals as breaking U.S. dependence on oil; and mitigating the adverse effects of climate change, while ensuring that energy costs do not diminish our economy, or impede its development. The recommendations contain several fundamental principles that IEEE-USA thinks policy-makers should follow when developing a comprehensive energy strategy.

Robert Heaton, an energy consultant from Louisiana stated: “I developed my talking-points using the IEEE-USA Energy Policy Recommendations with respect to the legislation being considered in Congress.  I truly believe that the conversations with the policy-makers achieved the intended purposes effectively.”


The next energy fly-in will be held on 9-10 May 2011. & All U.S. IEEE members are encouraged to come to Washington, receive the training, and then offer their perspective to lawmakers on how energy legislation affects them as consumers and energy engineering professionals.  The website for the 2010 event is at, and will be updated for the 2011 event as soon as details are available.

For further information on the Fly-ins, please contact:
Russ Harrison
(202) 530-8326

For Questions regarding Congress, legislation and the IEEE-USA Energy Policy Committee:
Bill Williams
(202) 530-8331

Bill Williams is IEEE-USA’s Legislative Representative, Technology Policy, and oversees IEEE-USA’s Committee on Transportation Policy, Energy Policy Committee, Research & Development Policy Committee, and general technology policy activities.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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