Nearly 200 energy professionals recently took part in the third annual Energy Moving Forward forum at the University of Colorado Denver. Colorado has been a longtime player in coal mining and gas and oil exploration, and it is quickly becoming a leader in renewable and alternative forms of energy.
Larry Makovich, IHS CERA Vice President and Senior Advisor for Global Power, kicked off the event as the keynote spe
aker. Much of his presentation focused on the estimated 100-year supply of natural gas in the United States, a surprisingly far more abundant reso
urce than previously imagined.
In the late 1990s, Texas businessman George Mitchell developed an affordable way to extract natural gas, the cleanest of the fossil fuels, which is locked up in shale rock and other geological formations by way of hydraulic fracturing. This fracking process involves injecting large amounts of water and chemicals deep underground, and, when done correctly, freshwater supplies are not contaminated. In 2000, shale gas represented just 1 percent of American natural gas supplies, and now it accounts for more than 30 percent. Makovich stressed that there is no form of energy that doesn’t present tradeoffs.
“Although this large supply of natural gas is a game changer there is a lot of wisdom in using an all of the above strategy,” Makovich said. “You really don’t know what’s going to pay off down the road.”
Makovich later joined the first panelist of five speakers to talk about the various impacts of having a rich supply of natural gas domestically. Author and veteran television journalist, Greg Dobbs, served as moderator during the forum. He added humor to the debate and kept the conversation on target.
According to David Eves, President and CEO of Public Service Company of Colorado, an Xcel Energy company, natural gas is not only incredibly clean, it is also relatively inexpensive given that the price of natural gas is at a historical low. Xcel Energy, the largest utility company in Colorado, will use natural gas to help reach its goal of having a 30 percent renewable level by 2020.
Richard Kolodziej, President of the NGVAmerica, was another panelist who participated in the debate. Kolodziej stressed to the audience the need to ensure that safety regulations are met when fracking so that companies don’t try to “cut corners.”
John Harpole, Founder and President of Mercator Energy, mentioned that development of natural gas resources will help the U.S. limit its dependency upon foreign countries. “This is a great breakthrough for the U.S. that we need to take advantage of,” he said.
U.S. Industrial Products Leader, Robert McCutcheon, talked about the economic impact fracking has had and the thousands of jobs the industry has created in this country. “We’re producing natural gas faster than we can consume it,” he said.
day conference concluded with the “The Future We Want: Student Perspectives on Energy Policy and its Ramifications.” Dobbs introduced the six-member panel, which included four students and two representatives from the Republican and Democratic parties. Representing the democratic-side was Tim Kirby of CU Denver School of Public Affairs; Ashley Palomaki of CU Boulder Law School; and Alice Madden, a former Colorado House majority leader and current Timothy E. Wirth Chair in Sustainable Development. Representing the Republican-side were students Michael Kosdrosky of CU Denver’s School of Public Affairs; Dan Schmidt of CU Denver’s Global Energy Management program; and Josh Penry, a former Colorado Senate minority leader and current senior vice president of Rockies Region, EIS Solutions.
While the Republicans were critical of President Obama’s “all-of-the-above” energy policy, the Democrats insisted that renewables are the way go. “Renewable energy is energy of the future,” Madden said.
Schmidt, who is also Director of Energy Development for Schmidt Associates, argued that hydraulic fracturing has received little government subsidy.
“The spending that came through the stimulus bill indicates to me an unwillingness to wait and let this technology truly mature to a place where it’s cost-competitive,” he said. Schmidt serves as Energy and Environmental Policy Coordinator for Indiana Congressman Mike Pence’s gubernatorial campaign. He will complete his M.S. in Global Energy Management at the University of Colorado Denver this December, and he also holds a law degree from Indiana University and is a LEED Accredited Professional.
The third annual Energy Moving Forward forum was presented by the University of Colorado Denver Business School and is proud to partner with Presenting Sponsor, Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc, and media partner, Denver Business Journal.