Thursday, December 3, 2009

Corporate-Academic Alliance Formed to Promote Pittsburgh Region as Global Energy Leader

The newly formed Energy Alliance of Southwestern Pennsylvania will advance a regional energy strategy by coordinating with existing activities and organizations to improve the climate for energy industry success and job creation.

Guided by CEOs of 14 energy-related firms and universities, and staffed primarily by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development and Innovation Works, the Alliance will be a virtual organization focused on developing and executing a strategy for Pittsburgh regional energy industry growth.

The Alliance was announced at the Dec. 1 Annual Meeting of the Allegheny Conference.

Through shared policy, advocacy, project coordination, company funding as well as communications and marketing efforts, the Alliance will position the southwestern Pennsylvania region as a global leader in energy innovation, production and related manufacturing.

In so doing, it will assist the growth of the energy industry in the region's economy - retaining existing jobs, creating new ones and enabling prosperity for all residents.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Economy League conducted an analysis of the energy industry in southwestern Pennsylvania and identified seven sectors in which the region's strengths are already greater than other regions around the country.

The Energy Alliance will include activity in all seven:
- Traditional Energy
- Coal
- Natural Gas
- Nuclear
- Alternative Energy
- Solar Wind
- Conservation and Distribution Systems
- Transmission & Distribution
- Intelligent Building Technologies

"With strengths across a diversified energy industry, our region is in an excellent position to execute a comprehensive strategy of economic growth and job creation," said Allegheny Conference Chair John P. Surma.

"We’re proud to join with the Conference in creating the Alliance and offering guidance, support and funding for the latest innovations in energy," said Innovation Works CEO Rich Lunak. "Our energy sector holds great promise for the commercialization of technologies that will help meet the world’s energy challenges. Innovation Works has a strong track record in developing start-up companies and bringing products to market. We’re looking forward to the contributions we can make to growing our region’s energy economy."

The announcement follows on an open letter issued earlier this year as G-20 leaders convened here to discuss the global economy. On Wednesday, September 23, 2009, an unprecedented group of Pittsburgh-based energy companies and universities stepped forward to share their commitment to our growing energy economy.

In an open letter in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the leadership from all seven sectors and the universities acknowledged the growing global energy demand and pledged to find the solutions to the world’s energy challenges together. “We believe that Pittsburgh will play a leading role in creating the new energy economy,” they said.

(CLICK HERE to read the open letter.)

The formation of the Energy Alliance demonstrates the commitment of business leaders across the seven components of the energy sector to work together to provide sustainable energy solutions, said Allegheny Conference CEO Dennis Yablonsky.

"Pittsburgh’s historic spirit of collaboration, diversity of energy resources and innovation know-how uniquely positions our region to create and implement a 21st century energy economy," he said.

"Energy companies, universities and organizations within our region bring two critical abilities to helping meet the world’s energy challenges. Our expertise in materials science, engineering, and nuclear energy can make the extraction and use of traditional energy sources cleaner and more efficient. Our historic strength in innovation holds great potential for developing distributed energy generation and delivery models, pioneering intelligent building systems, and finding cost-effective alternative technology solutions," Yablonsky said.

The energy sector in the Pittsburgh region is responsible for:
- A $13.7 billion contribution to our regional Gross Domestic Product
- Ten percent of our regional economy 105,000 direct/indirect jobs
- One-fourth of 2009 business expansion projects and
- More than $1 billion in public and private R&D annually

Southwestern Pennsylvania sits atop extensive energy industry resources including coal and the natural gas from within the Marcellus Shale.

According to a recent Penn State University report (CLICK HERE to view report), the Marcellus Shale is the largest unconventional natural gas reserve in the world with recoverable reserves estimated to be at least 489 trillion cubic feet.

In 2008, the Marcellus gas industry in Pennsylvania generated $2.3 billion in total value added and more than 29,000 jobs. The pace of development and extraction is expected to increase and by 2020, the Marcellus Shale activity is forecast to be generating $13.5 billion in value added and almost 175,000 jobs.

The region is also well positioned in its innovation resources as they include the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), one of a handful of federal Department of Energy research centers nationwide and the only one devoted to fossil fuel research including the future of carbon capture and sequestration.

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