The Hampton Roads Chamber was proud to partner with the Consumer Energy Alliance and the Virginia Manufacturers Association for the Energy and National Security Forum on November 2nd. The Forum featured U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
“American innovation can change the world. Today America is the number one energy producer in the world. This is a stunning turnaround from 15 years ago,” Perry said.
Hampton Roads Chamber President & CEO Bryan K. Stephens said, “The business community understands the importance of efficient and cost effective energy. The Chamber’s primary role in the region is to set the conditions for businesses to succeed. Of paramount importance to all businesses is clean, abundant, reliable and cost efficient energy. That is why we were delighted to help host Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry.”
Senator Frank Wagner opened his remarks by focusing on the last general assembly session. “We saw the gas bill go through and we’ve seen the price of renewable energy go down. What does the grid look like today and how do you prepare it for the future? You need to set the groundwork for the future and position Virginia to be a leader to accommodate new technologies that would be more resilient to weather and cyber events,” said Wagner. While the investments would be significant to ensure the grid has suitable technologies, Warner said, “This investment in the future will pay dividends long term and allow us to quickly recover.”
CEO of Virginia Manufacturers Association and Chairman of the Consumer Energy Alliance, Brett Vassey said, “It is a privilege to do business in Virginia and the energy future is bright. National defense and energy independence are inextricably linked, and we’ll need to grow our energy capacity.”
It was that relationship between energy and national security on which Secretary Perry expounded. The Department of Energy (DOE) manages 17 National Laboratories and oversees the United States’ energy supply. Having just come from a visit on a local nuclear submarine, Perry addressed the Hampton Roads regions link to national security. “The innovative group of people at these labs and the work that they do to support this community, the U.S. Navy and armed forces that keep America free, is substantial,” Perry said.
Perry discussed the innovative hydraulic fracturing process as something that changed the world and gave examples of American innovation initiatives within the DOE that are changing the world and peoples’ lives. He cites examples of supercomputing, carbon capture technology and artificial intelligence that directly impact the healthcare industry. “We are developing technologies that can save lives. Whether it’s determining if someone has had a concussion or treating Traumatic Brain Injury, this is what your tax dollars are doing, it’s changing and saving lives,” Perry said.
America is now the leading energy producer in the world producing 10.8 million barrels of oil a day. “Even by 2040 the 70% of the total energy we use will still be from fossil fuels. It is important to find the effective, efficient environmentally friendly ways to use them,” Perry said. Referring to his time as Governor of Texas he discussed incentives and thoughtful decisions that resulted in manufacturing and petro chemical growth in Texas while reducing Carbon, Nitrogen and Sulfur emissions. Texas is also the number one wind energy producing state in the nation. As Virginia Beach explores the possibility of offshore wind energy in its future Perry urged thoughtful decision making to incentivize such initiatives.
Perry announced America’s energy independence and discussed energy geo-politics. “By 2020 America will be a net crude oil exporting country and be energy dominant. There is not a more powerful national security issue for this country than to make sure oil is flowing and production and distribution of energy is at the core of geo-politics. One of the most powerful tools we have is American energy.”
Infrastructure and a skilled workforce are priorities. Infrastructure is more than pipelines. “It’s roads, bridges, schools and housing. If you’re developing energy at some of the lowest rates in the world, it means having a plan to go along with that,” Perry said. Virginia can focus on this infrastructure and rise up as an energy producing state. “Norfolk as a region has a real stake in the energy business,” Perry said.
The Hampton Roads Chamber knows what is at stake and works year round to be an impactful advocate to shape legislature that supports the business community and energy initiatives. The Chamber was enthusiastic to partner with the Consumer Energy Alliance and the Virginia Manufacturers Association for the Energy and National Security Forum.