Institute aims to help build state’s economy
Published 12:30 am Saturday, June 4, 2016
By SETH HAMMETT
Throughout my career – beginning when, at age 26, I became president of the Andalusia Chamber of Commerce – bringing good, well-paying jobs to Alabama has been of paramount importance.
As Alabama recruited Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, Airbus, Google, Remington Arms and others, it was clear that a key element in the state’s ability to attract industry is our reliable and affordable energy supply. Just as it’s important for your family to know the lights will come on and the air conditioner will cool the summer heat, business and industrial prospects need to know they can count on an adequate power supply at a cost that will allow them to be competitive in their space.
The assurance of reliable, affordable and clean energy as we continue to grow Alabama’s economy is the mission of the Energy Institute of Alabama. Just in my lifetime, I’ve seen our state’s economy shift from largely agricultural to a mix of agricultural and high-tech, high-wage manufacturing. Because Alabama has abundant energy sources, we have been able to accommodate that change.
Also during my lifetime, energy production has changed dramatically. We must ensure that we continue to pursue sound energy policies that will support growth without sacrificing our commitment to reliable, affordable and clean energy. No one knows for certain what the future holds for the energy sector in our state and nation, which is why now is a great time for the EIA to bring together expert energy policy advisors and speak with a unified voice to help Alabama’s leaders craft policy that will meet everyone’s needs.
Our Senior Policy Advisors are Chuck Karr, Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Alabama; Oliver D. Kingsley Jr., Associate Dean for Special Projects in the Office of the Dean for the Auburn University School of Engineering; Jim Sullivan, President of The Sullivan Group and former President of the Alabama Public Service Commission; Steven E. Taylor, Director of the Center for Bioenergy and Bioproducts at Auburn University; and Corey Tyree, Director of Energy & Environment, Analytics and Strategic Growth at Southern Research. They bring decades of experience and a broad range of energy sector expertise to the EIA. These advisors will be sharing thoughtful and significant insights about energy policy based on their real-world experience.
The energy industry is one of the most highly regulated commercial endeavors in the United States. The energy sector in Alabama recognizes that regulation is necessary to keep bad actors from spoiling our environment and harming consumers who are dependent on honest, dependable service. Regulation must be based on solid, fact-based research and not dependent on the ever-shifting winds of political expediency. With this in mind, the Energy Institute of Alabama was created.
This non-profit stands today as a clearinghouse for thoughtful, science-based policy that works for consumers and the energy industry. The Energy Institute of Alabama intends to always look toward the future while continuing to focus on deliverable promises of the industry. The EIA’s website (energyinstituteal.org) is a good place to start if you’re interested in Alabama’s energy sector.
Seth Hammett is chairman of the Energy Institute of Alabama and Speaker Emeritus of the Alabama House of Representatives.