It has been said that creating a sustainable energy supply is the number one challenge for society today. On June 4th and 5th, the fourth annual Sustainable Energy Forum was held in Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University to describe opportunities to meet that challenge. The event served as an opportunity for industry leaders, academicians, students, and members of the community to learn more about ideas and innovations in this growing field.
Over 200 attendees heard from a variety of guest speakers, including the Honorable Bill Johnson, Congressman of the 6th District Ohio, and Jason Walsh, senior advisor for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, at the U.S. Department of Energy. Attendees also had the opportunity to attend an exhibition of companies engaged in the sustainable energy supply chain, and participate in multiple panel discussions on an array of topics. Representatives from Delphi, Dominion Transmission, General Motors, Global Green USA, and V&M Star, were all present to describe their role in this emerging industry.
Marc Gerken, president of American Municipal Power (AMP) in Columbus, Ohio, delivered the keynote address. AMP is a major force in wholesale supply for municipal electrical systems, serving areas from Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, and a joint action agency in Delaware.
The focus of Gerken’s talk was on transformational technologies. He said for AMP, sustainability means to focus on maximizing opportunities and minimizing risks for their members. This involves “a balance between economic, environmental, and social considerations.” Since 2000, the nonprofit has seen membership grow from 82 in 2000 to now 129. Gerken assigns the reason for the growth to a business model that incorporates flexibility, financial growth, and future projects.
With sustainability being a world-wide concern, new technologies and research opportunities are emerging and Jason Walsh, Department of Energy, noted that government has invested $260 billion in global clean energy. This has provided opportunities for job growth, energy security, and an increase in the use of domestic oil sources, Walsh added.
The Government, corporations, and other populations are taking notice that sustainability in our nation is not an issue to take lightly; it’s a necessity. As Congressman Bill Johnson said, “Energy is the next great frontier for America.”