Governor, writer kick off wyoming energy summit news laramieboomerang.com electricity rates el paso

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“We’ll meet the challenges where we find them, we will litigate when we have to, but we should continue to say, ‘We want to be a leader in innovation and research,’” Mead said. “Not only should we say that, we should do it. Not only should we do it, we have proof now that Wyoming can be a world leader in energy and energy innovation.”

“We have long ago rejected this false choice that you can either have energy production or you can take care of the environment,” he said. “That’s a false choice. We can do it with reasonable rules and regulations. We can do this with innovation and research.”

He highlighted some of the innovation already taking place in Wyoming, praising UW’s School of Energy Resources — the summit’s main sponsor — for the work it supports in the High Bay Research Facility. A team led by Professor Mohammad Piri is using the new facility to investigate flow through porous media, which could help those in the energy sector extract more value out of conventional and unconventional reservoirs.

“People are banging at the gates now to close down the coal fire plants because of CO2,” Mead said. “We want them banging on the gates because they want our CO2 — because it makes products, makes new cement, makes feedstocks and other petrochemicals.”

“What we’re seeing today is a fight over how our electricity is going to be provided,” he said. “We are facing, I think, increased problems with reliability because the fundamental points about electricity supply are being overlooked in this race to be politically correct.”

Bryce told the audience about a recent trip to Puerto Rico, during which he visited with families facing persistent blackouts and restricted access to electricity eight months after Hurricane Maria left nearly 1.4 million people without power. While most of the island territory has seen its power restored, 2 to 3 percent are still in the dark, according to reporting by the New York Times.

“The focus is being lost on a critical issue, which is cheap, abundant, reliable electricity — and electricity means modernity,” Bryce said. “I’m passionate about this issue, as passionate as I’ve been on any issue my entire career, because having seen people who are living in the dark — people who are enduring months-long blackouts and how they are forced to live — reinforces, to me, the centrality of electricity.”

“What we’re seeing is huge growth in solar, we’re seeing the slow death of coal and nuclear and we’re seeing the dash to gas,” Bryce said. “Last year’s U.S. solar production hit a record 77 terawatt hours — an eightfold increase just in the last five years. This boom in solar is truly remarkable but it is not coming without cost. The fact is that solar is growing rapidly because of subsidies.”

“Let’s be clear about what’s happening with electricity supply around the world,” Bryce said. “It’s the rich countries — particularly when it comes to solar, onshore wind and offshore wind — that are installing renewables. It’s not the poor countries.”

“In places where you have large rural populations of people who are motivated and active, they’re fighting wind projects left and right,” Bryce said. “So, let’s be clear about what the prospects are for renewables because it involves significant changes in land-use.”

At the same time, the U.S. has been home to the shale revolution — a term for the country’s recent shift from importing liquefied natural gas to exporting it, coming closer to energy independence and diversifying the global market for oil and gas.

“Wyoming’s going to play a key role in this, and your state is going to be a battleground for a long time to come over policies that are going to evolve over the next few years about electricity supply,” he said. “I wish you luck with it. My advice is pack a lunch, because it’s going to last awhile.”