Training: Turn Up the Heat in August

Business direction background with two people

Summer will be in full swing with a multitude of training opportunities to enhance employees’ expertise and protect your bottom line this August.

First up is the 2016 Indiana Tax Conference, one of the state’s largest, on August 11. Learn the latest in tax case law and legislation as highly-experienced speakers identify ways to help you stay in compliance and reduce tax liability.

Francina Dlouhy, partner at Faegre Baker Daniels, will share her perspective on a crucial issue during her keynote luncheon presentation – It Was a Bad Idea Then and It Still Is Now! What Combined Filing Would Mean for Indiana. Among other themes are multistate tax hot topics for 2016, Affordable Care Act reporting compliance and an Indiana Department of Revenue update.

BKD, LLP is the presenting sponsor. Gold sponsors are MCM CPAs & Advisors and McGuire Sponsel. The silver sponsor is DMA – DuCharme, McMillen & Associates, Inc.

Fuel business savings the following week by attending the 14th Annual Indiana Conference on Energy Management on August 17-18. Learn how to cut costs and maximize resources as energy experts from throughout the state share practical – and effective – compliance strategies.

Don’t miss engaging keynote presentations:

  • Congresswoman Susan Brooks (invited) – opening general session: August 17
  • Canadian Consul General Doug George – Energy Security and Supplies: the Canada-U.S. Relationship – general session: August 18
  • Kyle Rogers, The American Gas Association, and The Edison Electric Institute representative (invited) – Outlook on Natural Gas and Electric – closing luncheon: August 18

Additional highlights include panel discussions, customized training (choose from a variety of options) and an expo showcasing the products and services offered by businesses in your field. Explore topics such as distributed generation; reducing utility bills; using the government and tax code for energy efficiency; and energy bankruptcies.

The 14th Annual Conference on Energy Management will take place at the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis-Downtown Union Station. Register online or call (800) 824-6885.

Gold sponsors: EDF Energy Services; Ice Miller LLP; MacAllister Power Systems; and Vectren. Silver sponsors: Cummins, Geronimo Energy, Indiana Electric Cooperatives, NIPSCO and Telamon Corporation.

Rounding out August offerings are:

Sponsorships are available by contacting Jim Wagner at (317) 264-6876.

Keystone XL Pipeline Defeat Will Likely Be Short-Lived

119744231The Keystone XL Pipeline bill was narrowly defeated Tuesday in the U.S. Senate. Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar offers his thoughts on the policy and the latest activity in Washington:

“Canada is going to continue to develop the oil sands and sell to other nations whether the U.S. allows the Keystone XL Pipeline or not. Whatever the impact that activity has on the environment, the activity is still going to happen. That’s the reality. Continued posturing by the Obama Administration and others amid calls from environmental groups isn’t going to change that.

Other countries are looking out for their energy futures. The U.S. needs to as well. Going forward with the Keystone XL Pipeline is an important part of the mix. It would strengthen and expand our already vital energy relationship with Canada. And sourcing more of our energy from a friendly, North American neighbor will help reduce our reliance on energy resources from less stable areas of the world.

Indiana is fortunate to have two senators – Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly – who understand the pipeline’s importance and have been staunch supporters of the project. It’s too bad the Senate, on the whole, couldn’t get past politics and do the right thing for our nation’s energy security. However, we look forward to early 2015 when this measure seems destined to finally pass the Senate and make its way to the President’s desk.

Background: The proposed Keystone XL project would construct a 1,700 mile pipeline to transport about 800,000 barrels a day of heavy crude oil from tar sand fields in Canada across the central U.S. to refineries on the Gulf Coast.

Keystone Pipeline Being Reconsidered; Tell Your Members of Congress it’s Important

The Obama administration is seriously considering reversing its January 2012 rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline project. A revised environmental impact statement from the State Department significantly eases environmental objections and opens the door for approval on a new application and revised route for the pipeline.

Opponents, most notably environmental extremists, have aggressively mobilized protests, lobbying and grassroots pressure on Congress and the President to kill the project. The White House is again under intense pressure and needs to hear from supporters of U.S. energy independence and the pipeline project.

The Indiana and U.S. economies are dependent upon reliable energy. Indiana has long been a leader in the energy and transportation industries. Low cost reliable sources of energy are critical to Indiana’s large and small businesses. Virtually every manufacturing process uses petroleum products as lubricants, parts, molds or finished products.

The $7 billion proposed Keystone XL project would construct a 1,700 mile pipeline to transport about 800,000 barrels a day of heavy crude oil from tar sand fields in Canada across the central U.S. to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The project is estimated to create more than 250,000 jobs and is supported by a broad coalition of business and labor organizations.

Recently, 53 members of the U.S. Senate, including nine Democrats, signed a letter to President Obama in support of the project. “We urge you to choose jobs, economic development and American energy security . . . there is no reason to deny or further delay this long-studied project,” they wrote. Nearly 70% of American voters support building the pipeline.

The new State Department statement predicts that Canada will continue to develop the oil sands and sell to other nations whether the U.S. allows the Keystone XL pipeline or not. Canada already provides more oil to the U.S. than all Persian Gulf countries combined. A new pipeline project would strengthen and expand this already productive and vital energy relationship. Not to mention, sourcing more of our energy from a friendly, democratic and North American neighbor will help reduce our reliance on energy resources from less stable areas of the world.

Call to Action: Send a message to President Obama and your members of Congress to urge approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline!

Partnership to Fuel America Coming to Indy October 4

A request from the Partnership to Fuel America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (with whom we are not directly affiliated):

Matt Koch, Vice President at the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy will discuss the benefits of North American energy development to American manufacturers and the American economy at large.  Joining Mr. Koch will be Christopher Guith, Vice President for policy at the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, who will provide a briefing on natural gas, hydraulic fracturing, and renewable fuels.  
 
WHO: 
Matt Koch, Vice President for Oil Sands and Arctic Issues at the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.  
 
Christopher Guith, Vice President for policy at the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.  
 
WHAT:
Partnership to Fuel America briefing and luncheon
 
WHEN:
Thursday, October 4 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
 
WHERE: 
Bose Public Affairs Group                      
111 Monument Circle, Suite 2700 
Indianapolis, IN 46204
 
*Parking will be validated for the Chase Tower garage. Please enter on Pennsylvania Street.
 
WHY:
Affordable Energy for the Future – North America has it! We will discuss strategies and priorities.
 
RSVP:
Christina Kane at 317-684-5427 or [email protected]

Gas Discounts Could (Slightly) Ease Pain at the Pump

This gas price situation is a real downer. I haven’t been this depressed about something since Duane Bickett left the Colts in 1994.

It not only directly takes more money out of commuters’ pockets, but it also causes the costs of transporting goods to skyrocket, which of course gets passed on to consumers. It’s madness, I say. But the Indy Star ran a report today showing what types of gas discounts are available at some Hoosier businesses.

Costco
Members who use the Costco American Express co-branded credit card to buy gas at Costco stations receive 3 percent back at the end of the year. The cash reward can be redeemed at Costco.

Kroger
Kroger lets consumers accumulate fuel points on their loyalty cards in 100-point increments. Each 100 points is worth 10 cents off a gallon of gas. There are three ways to earn 100 points. Buy $100 in the store, fill two qualifying prescriptions in the pharmacy or buy $50 in gift cards.

You can accumulate up to 1,000 points and get up to $1 off per gallon of gas up to 35 gallons.

Use a Kroger-branded Visa card and get 5 cents off per gallon on top of that.

The grocer also has a partnership with Shell stations. Customers can use Kroger points there by swiping their loyalty card but can redeem only 100 points at a time. So 10 cents off per gallon is the maximum.

Meijer
Use a Meijer store credit card or Meijer-branded MasterCard and get 5 cents off per gallon. There are limited-time promotions when that discount is bumped up to 10 cents per gallon. Occasionally, store purchases generate a free gas coupon at the checkout for $2 or more off.

Ricker’s
Sign up for the loyalty program and receive up to 10 cents off every gallon of gas. You have to be at least 18 years old and have a U.S. checking account and an active email address. The cards are used like a debit card and are linked to your checking account. To get the fuel discount, you must pay with the loyalty card.

Sam’s Club
Members receive 5 cents off per gallon at Sam’s Club fuel centers.

Shell
Use a Shell MasterCard and receive a 5 percent rebate on fuel purchased.

Speedway
Earn points on a membership card by making purchases. For example, receive 20 points per $1 spent, excluding restricted items, for purchases of food, drink and merchandise. Also receive 10 points per gallon of fuel purchased. Customers can redeem the points for discounts on gas. Earn 1,750 and receive 10 cents off per gallon; 4,375 and earn 25 cents off; 8,750 and earn 50 cents off.

Swifty
This one’s easy. Pay with cash and get 3 cents off per gallon.

Walmart
Buy a Walmart gas gift card and save 3 cents per gallon. Any amount from $10 to $1,000 can be added to the card. In some cases, consumers who use their Walmart store-branded credit card to buy gas will get 5 cents off per gallon.

Fewer Voters Blame Pres. Obama for Gas Prices

Personally, when I see a hyperpartisan political opponent of a sitting president prattle on about how he’s responsible for high gas prices, I generally roll my eyes. (Truth be told, I generally roll my eyes when hyperpartisan people say anything.) It just seems like there are a lot of factors — OPEC-related and the like — that are out of America’s hands (although President Obama’s rejection of the Keystone XL Pipeline likely won’t help matters). But according to a recent Washington Post article, fewer voters appear to be blaming the President for lofty costs at the pump:

Back in September 2005, gas prices surged to $2.90 per gallon across the country ($3.50 in today’s dollars), largely because Hurricane Katrina had shut down production across the Gulf of Mexico — an event that couldn’t plausibly be blamed on Bush. Yet 28 percent of Americans still blamed the president anyway. (Of course, one explanation is that voters were expressing discontent with the way the Bush administration handled the aftermath of Katrina.)

This time around, meanwhile, gas prices are even higher — the national average is now $3.74 per gallon — largely due to tight supplies and tensions between the United States and Iran (and the latter situation is something the White House actually is heavily involved with). Yet only 18 percent of Americans say the president’s responsible for pump prices. The number of Americans who are refusing to assign blame has jumped. Who knows? Perhaps after years of high gas prices a sense of fatalism has set in.

This jibes with political science research finding that, for the most part, a president’s re-election doesn’t hinge on the price of gasoline. Of course, that doesn’t mean that gas prices are meaningless — or that Obama can breathe easy about the situation. If spiking oil prices end up biting into economic growth, then the president’s prospects for re-election really would start sinking. As always, the economy matters a lot.

Economic Impacts of Where Our Energy Comes From

Having diverse sources of energy is a good thing. But the implications go far beyond the very important Indiana advantage of being a low-cost power producer.

The "other" implications will be the focus on an October 25 half-day summit titled Secure Energy: Our jobs, Our Economy, Our Future. In the words of the organizers, this event "will highlight the critical role North American petroleum and natural gas, particularly secure sources such as Canadian oil, play in America’s and Indiana’s economy."

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels is the keynote speaker. Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the United States, will also be a presenter. Panel discussion will feature state and national experts.

The Indiana Chamber is a sponsor of the event at the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis. Pre-registration is required. Full details available online.

Energy, Water Supplies: We Better Take Them Seriously

When a lengthy information-gathering/discussion meeting ends with a lot of people nodding their heads and a few "ah-hah" moments, it has generally been a success.

An example is a recent Indiana Vision 2025 task force meeting dealing with energy and water issues. Sounds thrilling, right? But it was most informative and I’m confident the 15 or so business leaders present would agree. (2025, by the way, is the process of the Chamber looking beyond the short term and developing a long-range economic development plan for the state; you’ll hear more as the work continues over the course of the rest of the year).

Expert presenters on nuclear, wind, coal, energy policy and water issues presented a variety of interesting facts and future scenarios. I’ll only scratch the surface here. The task force will use the information and the importance of ensuring adequate, cost-efficent energy and water supplies in helping craft the state’s economic future.

A few numbers:

  • In the U.S, 104 nuclear reactors supply 20% of the nation’s electricity. Globally, 59 plants are under construction, 149 are planned in 28 countries and 344 additional ones are under consideration
  • Although no facilities are coming to Indiana any time soon, the state certainly has manufacturing opportunities to support the industry
  • "Demand sourcing" in the oil market refers to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates holding back oil capacity to help control fluctuations. (How successful is that strategy?)
  • The Energy Information Administration expects 45% of U.S. gas production by 2035 to come from shale gas — bringing a new set of questions about processes and reliability
  • Indiana now stands 11th in wind energy capacity. But despite 35% annual growth nationally over the last five years, wind accounts for just 2.3% of U.S. electricity
  • Jobs are also part of the wind picture. There are 400-plus manufacturing facilities for wind-related products, with Texas and Illinois leading the way in numbers employed in such positions
  • Indiana is one of only two states with more manufacturing workers than government workers. In Indiana, manufacturing accounts for 45% of all energy used
  • The average power plant in Indiana is 53 years old, the average worker in those plants is 52 and the average coal miner is 51
  • Indiana has pending water supply problems in the southern part of the state, an area that also shows a higher level of projected growth (if water and other resources are available)
  • Other states are utilizing regional systems to manage water supply, while local resources manage water demand and delivery 

Trip to the Pump Not Quite as Painful, Still There is Work to be Done

When you have a 17-year-old daughter who must pay for her own gasoline, each time the pump price comes down is a cause for celebration. I even received a call Wednesday afternoon asking if she should fill up (despite still having half a tank) when she saw the $1.98 a gallon price.

For someone burned by far too many of those hard-to-explain Thursday increases, I went out on a limb and said "No, you can wait." Oil prices are supposed to decrease even further and the down economy (reality and fears) that is contributing to the pump relief unfortunately isn’t going to change overnight.

The Heritage Foundation’s Ben Lieberman offers some deeper perspective, warning that Congress must not go back on its easing of drilling restrictions. It also should reduce the red tape and avoid costly oil and gas regulations. Short-term gain will be replaced by long-term pain if we don’t act wisely.

Read Lieberman’s analysis.