On January 18th, seventy-five business leaders, educational professionals, and politicians came together for an event titled Think About Energy at Lehigh Valley Career & Technical Institute in Schnecksville, Pa. The event discussed current trends and topics in the energy industry including abundant natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale, critical infrastructure constraints, aligning education with industry employment needs, downstream value-added opportunities, and opportunities for combining heat and power. This event is the 10th installment in an ongoing series.
The Think About Energy panel featured commentary by Pam Witmer, Vice President of Government Affairs at UGI Energy Services and former PA Public Utility Commissioner, and panel discussions on Fueling the Region by Bill desRosiers, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, and Abe Amoros, Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) and Natural Gas: Working for Businesses and Families with Scott Bush, Borton-Lawson, and David Taylor, PA Manufacturers Association. Lt. Governor Mike Stack keynoted the event and emphasized more communication between the industry and government, to ensure Pennsylvania takes full advantage of this resource in the years to come, while George Stark, Director, External Affairs for Cabot, served as MC for the event.
Here are some of the highlights from each speaker from the event:
George Stark discussed the importance and the need for greater infrastructure investments to bring natural gas to businesses and consumers in Pennsylvania and other regional markets.
“Pennsylvania produced more than 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2015 and today is the country’s second highest gas producer. We have an amazing opportunity not only to put this local fuel to work in our local communities, but also to energize our neighboring states. We need to keep infrastructure projects like the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, Constitution Pipeline, PennEast Pipeline and others moving forward to spread the environmental and economic benefits that natural gas offers,” Stark said.
Pam Witmer examined resulting natural gas opportunities for residential, commercial, and industrial customers, and the impact of natural gas in the power sector (including both utility scale and distributed electric generation).
“As we enter a new year, the region’s natural gas infrastructure challenges continue, however, there’s reason for optimism,” Witmer said. “UGI Energy Services’ Sunbury Pipeline has just come into service, which will fuel the state-of-the-art Hummel Station power plant in Shamokin Dam, Pa., and our PennEast Pipeline continues to progress. New projects such as these will help provide lower and more stable energy pricing. We look forward to helping further reduce natural gas and electricity prices for area families and businesses.”
Bill desRosiers highlighted the Cabot’s position as not only a leading natural gas producer (#1 in Pennsylvania) but it is a leader in education investments as well.
“Cabot is investing in some career and technology centers, the first of which was in Susquehanna County,…We started funding scholarships, donating equipment, volunteering in the classroom … and we have expanded into eight different counties since we first started, including LCTI. Since implementing these programs, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in new equipment for these programs while providing funding to more than 1,000 students who otherwise would not have had the financial resources to attend the schools and their programs,” said desRosiers.
David Taylor said that his organization works closely with companies such as Cabot to improve Pennsylvania’s competitiveness. “We want manufacturers to see Pennsylvania as the smart business decision to invest, hire and expand here in the state … and this is where energy can be the key differential that opens up a century or more of prosperity, growth and job opportunities.”
Scott Bush emphasized the opportunity for businesses across the state to leverage affordable, local natural gas to give themselves a competitive advantage with the national and world markets.
“Whether you’re in the hospitality industry, manufacturing or a large facility that uses a lot of hot water and electricity, there are countless applications for natural gas to lower your energy bills and your carbon footprint,” said Bush.
Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack headlined the standing-room-only session.
“The Commonwealth is positioned for long-term growth thanks to its abundant natural resources that include natural gas,” said Stack. “Harrisburg recognizes the importance of new infrastructure to deliver more natural gas to more users. That is why we have started initiatives like the Pipeline Investment Program that offers grants of to $1 million to help construct the last few miles of natural gas distribution lines to businesses, schools, hospitals, and others – this will ultimately help create jobs and make low-cost natural gas more available.”
Also speaking at Wednesday’s event was Abe Amoros, Pennsylvania legislative director for the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), Amoros discussed how the natural gas industry had become an economic engine for the state, creating new jobs, boosting tax revenue, and increasing the region’s energy security. He described the millions of hours his laborers have logged in the industry at family-sustaining wages across the Commonwealth before emphasizing the billions of dollars in held-up infrastructure projects his laborers are ready to build.
About Lehigh Valley Career & Technical Institute – LCTI is the largest career and technical high school in Pennsylvania and one of the largest in the nation. The school sits on 47 acres and offers 40+ courses to more than 2,700 students.