Griffin: Indiana Air Cleaner Than Decades Ago

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Indiana Chamber VP of Environment & Energy Vince Griffin discusses the state of Indiana’s water and air. You may be pleasantly surprised to hear how it compares to previous generations. For more, visit www.indianachamber.com/environment.

A Sensible Energy Alternative

In 12-plus years of writing stories, commentaries, press releases and more for the Chamber and BizVoice magazine after 13 years in the newspaper business (I started very, very young), I feel I have a pretty good understanding of a number of topics. I’m not sure, however, that energy/environmental issues always fall into that category.

It usually takes a good session with Chamber expert Vince Griffin to enhance my knowledge and understanding. But Vince is off on a well-earned vacation so I’ll have to go this one alone in saying that legislation introduced in Congress on Wednesday seems to have, in technical terms, a whole heck of a lot of common sense. And you seemingly can’t often say that today.

The authors are senators John (Jay) Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio). Opinions may vary on the performances of one or both, but they want to provide incentives for carbon capture and storage. Their states, like Indiana, generate the vast majority of their electricity from coal. It’s a different approach from the controversial cap and trade or other versions of reducing carbon emissions.

More on that in a minute. The senators added a provision related to a renewable electricy standard that is currently part of a separate bill. Instead of a mandate on the amount of power that comes from simply renewable energy, they want to add clean coal and nuclear power to that mix. Again, that simply makes sense in so many ways.

Details below courtesy of CongressDaily:

"If you really want to do something significant about reducing greenhouse gas emissions … this one piece of legislation would do more than perhaps anything else," Voinovich said. "This bill by itself has merit to getting it done this year."

Rockefeller said renewable energy such as wind, solar and geothermal power cannot be developed quickly enough to replace coal anytime soon, so Congress should invest in technology that makes coal clean.

"We’re going to offer [the bill], and I think it’s going to change the face of this debate," Rockefeller said. "A lot of our colleagues won’t face up to the fact that [renewable energy] won’t make up the difference."

The $20 billion in federal money in their bill would go toward developing large-scale pilot projects of carbon capture and sequestration, in which carbon emissions are captured and stored underground or elsewhere instead of going into the atmosphere. The bill establishes a regulatory framework to monitor and govern "long-term geological storage" of carbon, Voinovich said. It also funds additional programs through loan guarantees and new tax credits for companies that are early adopters of the technology.

The bill would be funded by a fee assessed to utilities in both the commercial and industry sector. Consumers would see an increase of roughly $10 a year, both senators said. The fees would total about $2 billion a year, which is how the bill would pay for the $20 billion.

Packing a Powerful Agenda for Energy Week

The topic last Friday was energy when the Indiana Chamber conducted its monthly Policy Issue Conference Call. We quickly discovered there was no shortage of topics. It would have been easy to expand the one hour of discussion with our own Vince Griffin, David Pippen of the governor’s office and Brandon Seitz of the Indiana Office of Energy Development.

We’ll recap just a few of my takeaways from that, with several of the subjects from that discussion undoubtedly returning during this Energy Week on the blog. We will feature a daily guest blog or other insight focused on Indiana energy developments. Consider the following:

  • Indiana is home to two of the biggest energy investments you will find anywhere: $4-billion plus being spent by BP in updating its Whiting Refinery to be able to better process heavy crude oil from Canada; and construction of Duke Energy’s $2.3 billion coal gasification plant in Edwardsport. For those who want coal to disappear, it’s not going to happen. This is the next generation of technology being implemented for the first time on a broad scale that will guide the use of abundant coal reserves.
  • There are 616 wind turbines (the number could seemingly change any day) towering in the Indiana skyline. More projects are being proposed and studied — and that’s a good thing. But supporters need to remain realistic as wind will not replace (but supplement) more traditional power sources. After all, if the wind is not blowing, it’s lights out — so to speak.
  • Indiana’s success in wind and ethanol production is due to incentives (both state and federal), not mandates. Other states have opted for the renewable standards that require a certain percentage of power to be generated by various alternative sources. For Hoosiers, the preferred method is innovation — discovering new sources for ethanol, rewarding entrepreneurs, emphasizing efficiency and utlizing technology to make better use of existing resources.

Again, there is so much more that was discussed last week and continues to be part of the energy mix. Bottom line: Indiana makes things, it always will make things and reliable, low-cost energy is needed to make that happen.

And, if you want to supplement information with education, check out the Chamber’s popular Indiana Conference on Energy and Environmental Management. It’s June 15 at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis. 

Jim Rogers Bringing Energy Philosophy Back to Indiana

So what has Jim Rogers, chief executive of Duke Energy, been up to in recent months?

  • Appearing on "60 Minutes" to support cap and trade, while also discussing on the show the necessity of carbon capture and sequestration of coal
  • Talking to the top players in China’s power industry about partnering on clean energy technologies
  • Being named the 2009 Citizen of the Carolinas by the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce (some of the past winners: Rev. Billy Graham, Dean Smith, Michael Jordan and Ben Bernanke)

Rogers "comes home" to Indiana on September 2 as the keynote speaker for the Indiana Conference on Energy Management. Rogers came to Plainfield-based PSI Energy in 1988 as chairman, president and CEO. Mergers led to similar roles at Cinergy in Cincinnati and then Duke, one of the nation’s largest energy companies.

“When Jim Rogers arrived at PSI Energy  in the late 1980s, he brought a level of enthusiasm and vision that challenged the historically conservative power industry,” declares Vince Griffin, who worked for Rogers at that time and is now the Indiana Chamber vice president of environmental and energy policy. “This is unquestionably a challenging time for the electric power industry. Jim Rogers will undoubtedly bring his passion and perspective to this energy conference."

Duke Energy is also looking at its Edwardsport, Indiana facility as a pilot project for the future with its investment in a 630-megawatt IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) facility.

Duke Energy-Indiana Ties Run Deep

Jim Rogers’ road to the head of Duke Energy and leadership both within his industry and the U.S. business community began, in one sense, in Indiana. 

Who knew in 1988 when he joined Plainfield-based PSI Energy as chairman, president and CEO that PSI would merge with Cinergy (putting Rogers in a similar role out of Cincinnati from 1995-2006) and that the Cinergy-Duke marriage three years ago would elevate him to the leadership position he currently holds.

Rogers made an impact and left an impression in the Hoosier state. He served on the boards of directors of several leading corporations (Indiana National Bank and Duke Realty among them) and earned honorary doctorate degrees from Indiana State University (law) and Marian College (now Marian University) in business administration.

“When Jim Rogers arrived at PSI Energy  in the late 1980s, he brought a level of enthusiasm and vision that challenged the historically conservative power industry,” declares Vince Griffin, who worked for Rogers at that time and is now the Indiana Chamber vice president of environmental and energy policy. “This is unquestionably a challenging time for the electric power industry.”

Duke Energy is also looking at its Edwardsport, Indiana facility as a pilot project for the future with its investment in a 630-megawatt IGCC (integrated gasification combined cycle) facility.

Indiana takes center stage in the energy debate on September 2 with the Indiana Conference on Energy Management. The Duke Energy view, and undoubtedly a heavy dose of Rogers’ philosophy, will be featured in the keynote address from Jim Turner, the company’s second in command and leader of U.S. franchised electric and gas operations.

A (Energy) Tax You Need to Understand

In Washington, they call it cap and trade. In Indiana, energy tax is the more common moniker. No matter the name, what does it mean for your organization — and all Hoosiers? In simple terms, a lot.

Find out just how much June 5 during the Chamber’s next Policy Issues Conference Call.

Vince Griffin, our energy and environmental expert, will explain the proposed legislation, its potential impacts and why Indiana is at the crossroads of the debate. Cameron Carter, who leads the way on federal topics, will outline the Washington politicians and personalities involved, as well as the Indiana connections.

In the mountain of major issues being debated in Washington, this one is at (or very near) the peak. Take 60 minutes, learn more and get your questions answered on Friday, June 5.  Registration is required for this free Chamber member event.

Chamber Environmental/Energy VP to Earn Prestigious Ball State Award

Vince Griffin, Chamber vice president of energy and environmental policy, will receive the 2009 Natural Resources and Environmental Management Alumni Society Award of Distinction from Ball State University at its April 17 awards dinner.

Griffin, who earned his master’s degree from Ball State in 1975, has been the Chamber’s environmental and energy issue expert since 1997. A registered environmental health specialist, he has held numerous positions in the private and public sectors, coming to the Chamber after a lengthy career at PSI (now Duke Energy).

A Ball State release notes the award is presented to "one who is in a position of distinction, and who has demonstrated outstanding successes in his field, related to natural resources. Recipients are those who have also demonstrated loyalty to or support of the Ball State University Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management."

A former president of the Indiana Environmental Health Association, Griffin currently serves on the board of the Center for Coal Technology and Research at Purdue and the Center for Earth and Environmental Sciences at Indiana University.