Letter from the Chairman

From EIA Board Chairman Seth Hammett:

As we move further into our second year of operation as the Energy Institute of Alabama, one thing I want to share is how proud and pleased I am with the fine work of our Senior Policy Advisors. When we came together to form the Institute, we quickly learned the value a team of first-rate advisors adds to our vision and credibility.

It has been interesting to see what these experts that we rely upon have had to say and how beneficial it is to the people of Alabama. Already, the state media have published pieces by Dr. Chuck Karr on the future of coal in Alabama, Jim Sullivan on what to expect from federal, state and local regulations on the energy industry and Dr. Corey Tyree’s analysis and projections on the amount of electricity now being consumed in the country.

We also count on Oliver Kingsley and Dr. Steven Taylor for guidance and for sharing their expertise – on nuclear plant operation/policy and biomass, respectively – with the media and our stakeholders.

The EIA scored several great successes in its first year. Among those, were the first Energy Day with the Alabama Legislature and our Lineman Appreciation Day. Both events were well received and helped us toward our goal of being recognized as the best source for factual, objective information when it comes to energy issues.

As an Institute, we are now up to eight affiliates – Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, Alabama State Port Authority, the Business Council of Alabama, Coalbed Methane Association of Alabama, Drummond Co., Manufacture Alabama, Regions and Southeast Gas. In the past 12 months, we’ve had our media rollout with visits to outlets all across the state, seven regional policy meetings, hired an executive director who is also a registered lobbyist, started a Twitter account (@EnergyofAL) and engaged a polling service to track political races. We are closely monitoring nuclear plant construction in the Southeast and had an economic impact study produced by Dr. Keivan Deravi.

We are looking forward to at least two tours this fall of energy generation plants, one in South Alabama and one in the northern part of the state. We will have our first of what we hope will become an annual fly-in to Washington, D.C., so that Institute members can get together to visit with our House and Senate members. We are planning an awards program to honor a Lineman of the Year and an Alabama Legislator of the Year. Plus, we’re already working on our second annual Energy Day, set for Feb. 6, 2018.

Lineman Appreciation Day

Tropical Storm Cindy blew through Louisiana late last month and the spin off storms caused many in our state to be without power for a time – thankfully, a fairly short time. Stormy weather reminds us to be thankful for those who work long hours in difficult circumstances to get our power back on when we lose it.

It was that attitude that led the EIA to sponsor Alabama Lineman Appreciation Day on June 5 in Montgomery. Linemen from a dozen electric companies and cooperatives across the state gathered for the luncheon meeting. (See the photo from Lineman Appreciation Day at the top of this newsletter.)

“We’re doing something today that we need to do every day and that is tell our linemen how much we appreciate what they do,” said Seth Hammett, EIA Chairman and PowerSouth Vice President of Business Development.

Joining Hammett in honoring the linemen at the luncheon was Alabama Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh and Commissioner Jeremy Oden and Alabama Emergency Management Director Art Faulkner. Baldwin EMC lineman David Hammock and Alabama Rural Electric Association of Cooperatives Safety Specialist Eric Turner, a former lineman, also addressed the crowd.

See more from Alabama Lineman Appreciation Day here.

Eight affiliates on board with EIA

The Energy Institute of Alabama now has eight affiliates who support the mission of the organization and have joined the effort to share fact-based information to help guide policy-makers when they make decisions that affect the $13-billion energy industry.

The EIA affiliates are Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, Alabama State Port Authority, the Business Council of Alabama, Coalbed Methane Association of Alabama, Drummond Co., Manufacture Alabama, Regions and Southeast Gas.

Affiliates join the EIA upon invitation from the board. Interested parties can visit the EIA website to request more information.

Tyree: Consumers on a diet

Energy Institute of Alabama Senior Policy Advisor Corey Tyree, Ph.D., is Director of Energy & Environment, Analytics and Strategic Growth at Southern Research in Birmingham. Tyree recently wrote an analysis of the current demand for electricity in the nation that was published in several media outlets across the state.

Tyree pointed out that the connection between electricity consumption and economic growth has decreased for decades. “When the economy grew, so too did electricity consumption. This correlation has been weakening for decades. Never has this been more evident than in the most recent decade, which saw gross domestic product increase 15 percent while electricity consumption remained flat. Electricity consumption remained flat even as Americans built more homes, built larger homes, constructed new commercial building space, built new information technology infrastructure, migrated westward and southward where space heating and air conditioning is more heavily utilized, and spent more and more of our lives staring at large, bright screens.”

Read Tyree’s interesting article in its entirety at this link.

Karr talks coal in Walker County

Another EIA Senior Policy Advisor – Charles Karr, Ph.D., the Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Alabama – was the keynote speaker at the annual breakfast meeting of the Walker County Chamber of Commerce on June 28.

Karr is known for his expertise on the coal industry. He wrote an article on behalf of the EIA in January explaining the continued importance of coal in the energy mix and the industry in Alabama.

Karr’s speech was well received at the event in a county that historically has been a big producer of coal. Thanks, Dr. Karr, for being part of EIA’s efforts to educate people in our state as to the importance of the energy industry!