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
There are currently 104 nuclear reactors in 31 states (count Indiana among the other 19)
Nuclear provides about 20% of the nation’s electricity
No new nuclear facilities have been built for decades due to environmental opposition and regulatory uncertainty
Minnesota has banned all new nuclear plants, and 12 other states have put various restrictions on any potential construction.
Some states, and a number of other countries, have demonstrated that nuclear can be a safe and valuable contributor to the energy mix. A strong energy policy that promotes a serious look at nuclear as part of the solution would be a welcome addition.
Forgive me. I allowed a certain former President to draft the headline.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer spoke about Arizona’s economic future last week, offering her contention that the Grand Canyon State should strive to become an energy hub. Like many states, she suggested Arizona focus on renewable energy. Additionally, however, she sees nuclear as a "cornerstone" option for the future.
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer says Arizona’s economic future may hinge on making the state a hub for renewable- and nuclear-energy development that can both power the state and drive job creation.
Speaking Tuesday in Phoenix at a gathering of the Business Summit of the West, Brewer laid out what she called "a vision for Arizona’s second century." It’s one that leans heavily on the production of wind, solar and other leading-edge technologies as she looks to position the state as a leader in green energy.
Brewer also said it’s time to revisit an older power source: nuclear.
"Let there be no doubt. Let there be no mistake. Let there be no mischaracterization: I’m a strong advocate for the development of more nuclear energy in Arizona," Brewer told the conference of elected officials and business leaders at the Arizona Biltmore Resort and Spa. "Nuclear power is at the cornerstone of our clean-energy future."
Her words come two decades after the completion of the state’s Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. The triple-reactor plant 50 miles west of downtown Phoenix was the nation’s last such facility to come online.
Despite a few horrific accidents in the past, nuclear power is making a comeback as a low-emission energy alternative due to many safety improvements in the past few decades.
Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers has spent 20-plus years as a CEO in the energy industry (starting with PSI Energy in Plainfield in 1988). And despite his wife’s reaction of "what the heck were you thinking?," he acknowledged today at the Indiana Chamber’s Indiana Conference on Energy Management that he’s signed up for five more years.
"I love this industry," he told the conference attendees. And while he has seen many changes in his career, he adds, "The next five years are going to be more transformative for our industry than the last 20 have been."
Rogers shared 10 facts about the current and future energy outlook before answering numerous questions. Among his revelations:
By 2050, Duke will have to retire or replace virtually every power plant it is operating today
The company is the third largest generator of both coal and nuclear energy. It is currently building new coal and natural gas facilities, has two nuclear proposals being reviewed and is also active in various areas of renewables
While there will always be skeptics, he says the majority of scientists have spoken in favor of climate change and that he is a believer
Rogers thinks that the cap and trade legislation that passed the House earlier in the summer "will be improved by the Senate to minimize the cost impact to consumers. The transition, however, is not going to be free, not going to be easy and not going to be quick. It will take decades to make the transition, but we have to get to work on it now. Our mission has changed. We have to modernize and decarbonize our fleet to help our communities become the most energy efficient in the world."
Rogers’ take on three other issues:
China: "They’re moving fast. The reality is that China gets it. They’re the number one producer of solar panels; number one producer of wind turbines. They have 14 nuclear plants under construction. That’s why we’re partnering with them. We want to move at China time."
Industry employment: "Real jobs are going to be created if we rebuild the nuclear industry in the United States. There are no such things as green jobs; every job is a green job. It’s all about improving productivity and becoming more efficient. Let’s quit trying to draw lines."
Smart grid and energy efficiency: "I believe this will turn out to be the greatest enabler, and I can’t even envision today what it will enable." He explains that while Duke and other companies are currently focused on generation of power to the meter, the future includes writing software for specific energy uses. "Our energy efficiency will be driven by technology. The same way you throw the switch today and the lights come on, you will throw the switch and it will optimize your use of energy. The boundaries of our business are being fundamentally redrawn."