Winter 2018 Newsletter

Our mission:

To promote reliable, affordable, and clean energy to help grow our economy, create high-paying jobs, and build public support for Alabama’s energy industry.

Join Us for Energy Day 2018

On Tuesday, February 6th, EIA and the Southern States Energy Board will host Alabama Energy Day at the State Capitol. Our day will begin with an update from the Environmental Protection Agency Region Four Administrator Trey Glenn.

At noon, we will host an educational legislative luncheon in the Old Archives room. Laura Schepis, executive director, Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy, and Dr. David Gattie, associate professor of engineering at the University of Georgia, will lead a discussion on net metering: costs, customers and a smarter way forward.

We will close the day with a legislative reception that evening.

A Conversation with Senator Cam Ward

Recently, EIA had the opportunity to talk with Sen. Cam Ward, who represents State District 14, where we discussed a wide variety of energy-related topics. Below is the q & a from that visit:

You serve on numerous committees, many of which focus on energy. You are even chairman of the Joint Oversight Committee for Energy Policy and chairman of the national/international Energy Council, CLEER.  How/why did you develop an affinity for energy?
Our economy is diverse. It is much more than spreadsheets and numbers. Our energy production is an important part of the Alabama economy. After visiting with other states, I realized how complex the issue is and found myself interested in how technology is making our state even more competitive. 

President Trump has loosened some of the restrictions on coal and has begun deregulation. How will this affect Alabama’s economy?  President Trump’s deregulation efforts are one of the single biggest drivers of the uptick in our economy. For eight years, we had to deal with regulations that dominated our energy industry with more paperwork than jobs. This change has dramatically improved production as well as delivery.

What else can we expect to see from President Trump and/or Secretary Perry with respect to energy policy? How does this affect Alabamians? There are several areas of improvement in the Trump administration’s energy policy that will benefit our nation. Improved pipeline delivery infrastructure from Canada to gulf coast refineries will increase domestic supply of oil. Also, the easing of restrictions for off-shore drilling will move the United States closer to complete energy independence. One particular benefit of the Trump administration’s energy and environmental policy will be the easing of restrictions for the construction of the roads. For the last eight years, Alabama has had a terrible time even getting started with new road projects due to the overwhelming number of environmental regulations involved in starting any project.

Unfortunately, terrorist attacks are on the rise. Many entities have and are continuing to put safeguards in place to protect the welfare of the general public. With that in mind, are you comfortable with the security of our grid? I am worried about the security of our grid. This is not due to the fault of the private sector but my concern is how rapidly so many threats to our grid system are growing. Countries such as North Korea, China and Russia are constantly looking at ways to disrupt our grid system. This threat is greater than any military aggression that our nation is faced with because it is going to be a daily challenge going forward. Unlike military developments, cyber-security does not change year-to-year but instead day-to-day. This will require both the public and private sectors to greatly increase our investment in our technology and security measures.

Modular reactors have been talked about for years as the “new” nuclear power plant. What are your thoughts on them? Once the technology is in place to provide more assurance of their safety, more and more use of modular reactors will likely take place. Two issues are key. One, with current LNG and natural gas prices being so low, there is little incentive to invest in a new energy source. Second, security will always be a driving factor in determining whether or not this technology is far enough along to include it in our national energy portfolio.

There seems to be an abundance of LNG in the market, which is a factor in low prices. How long do you see this continuing? I believe the low prices in the LNG market are here to stay for a while. The abundance of resources both in the United States and Canada represent a sector of the energy economy that could continue to keep prices lower for at least the next decade barring international conflict.

Do you foresee any incentives for the continued development of wind/solar as power sources? Alabama’s environment really doesn’t lend itself to solar or wind as a dominant source of energy production. Both will be an integral part of our energy economy but will likely be more complimentary rather than dominant resources. Incentives will most likely be more focused on the improvement and development of further integration of wind and energy into the grid system.

 

Affiliate Spotlight

 

Why we joined EIA: “Regions is committed to growing our state’s economy by actively participating in the retention, expansion and recruitment efforts led by our state’s economic development services to our existing and expanding industries, as well as companies. Reliable, affordable energy resources are a critical component of Alabama’s ability to grow and strengthen its economy.  We are proud to support our partners in Alabama’s energy sector as they work to provide vital services to companies considering Alabama as a place to call home,” said Jeff Rabren, senior vice president, state government affairs and economic development.

About Regions Financial Corporation
Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $124 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, mortgage, and insurance products and services. Regions has customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,500 banking offices and 1,900 ATMs. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at www.regions.com.

Gas is Good

By Dennis Lathem, executive director
Coalbed Methane Association of Alabama
Yes, gas IS good. We realize this each time we fill up our tanks and have money left to spend on life’s other essentials—and wants. But, that kind of gas is not the kind to which I’m referring. Specifically, I’m talking about coalbed methane gas.

Never heard of coalbed methane gas? Well, I am here to share with you exactly what it is and why it’s important to us as Alabamians.

Methane is the by-product of the geological process that turns organic material into coal.  Coalbed methane was proven to be a valuable additional source of natural gas when techniques, pioneered right here in Alabama, were developed to make underground coal mining safer.

These days most natural gas from coal (coalbed methane) is extracted from deposits that will never be mined.  This natural gas, which is transported in the same pipeline system as other natural gas, is used by utilities to generate electricity, by industry to power factories, by chemical plants to make products vital to our economy and to provide heating and hot water to millions of American homes.

Coalbed methane gas is produced in seven counties and accounts for approximately 43% of all natural gas produced in our state. Currently, there are 5,400 active (producing) wells out of 10,000 that have been permitted in the last 37 years. Operators have invested $3.5 billion to drill the wells, develop production infrastructure and bring this fuel to market. It’s one of 16 sources that comprises our energy mix.

Natural gas is clean and affordable. It has fewer impurities than most other types of fuels, which result in less pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Due to methane gas’ naturally clean state, it means that companies don’t have to purchase extra environmental controls, like scrubbers or filters. This translates to fewer expenses for the utility, which means lower bills for you and me.

In addition to being a clean power source, methane gas has even more uses. It can be mixed with fertilizer to make ethanol, while it also eliminates soot for cleaner diesel fuel. As a raw material, it is used in lightweight cars, wind power blades, solar panels and other energy-efficient materials.

Coalbed methane gas is a clean, natural fit for our state’s energy resources. As a leader in low emission, methane gas is a resource we can be proud to use. It’s good for us and it’s easy on the environment. To learn more, visit us at http://coalbed.com/.

 

Mark Your Calendar

Tuesday, February 6: Energy Day
Monday, June 4: Lineman Appreciation Day