By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The newly formed Energy Institute of Alabama (EIA) promises to promote reliable, affordable, and clean energy to help grow Alabama’s economy, create high-paying jobs, and build public support for Alabama’s energy industry.
“Our group intends to be a clearinghouse for strong research that will separate political fancy from reasonable policies that benefit the consumer and the industry,” said Alabama Speaker of the House Emeritus Seth Hammett, who has been elected to serve as the organization first chairperson.
EIA’s nucleus is comprised of senior policy advisers representing research, education, engineering, and strategic development.
Hammett says in the formation of EIA they looked at best practice in a number of states including Indiana, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and Texas, but surprisingly found New Jersey was an excellent model for Alabama.
“We visited New Jersey and asked what they were doing that worked and what didn’t work,” said Hammett.
From educating the public on how energy is generated, transmitted, and distributed, it also wants to be a strong advocate for reliable and affordable clean energy.
Dr. Corey Tyree, Director of Energy & Environment, Analytics and Strategic Growth at Southern Research Institute, said EIA’s goal is to to provide factual, data-driven information for every sector of the energy industry here in Alabama, while educating the public on the importance of the industry to the state, advocate for energy policies that will enhance the economy of Alabama, and support economic development.”
“Those in the energy business in Alabama have long been strong advocates of job creation” said Hammett. “We want to make sure people understand how closely related the cost and availability of energy is to job creation.”
When asked about the environmental impact of energy production, storage, and distribution, Hammett says, “EIA takes those issues very seriously,” pointing to the work being conducted by Dr. Tyree, and his staff at the Southern Research Institute.
Headquartered in Birmingham, the Southern Research Institute is on the cutting edge of research with nearly 500 scientists and engineers working across a spectrum of disciplines including energy and environment.
At the Southern Research Institute, Dr. Tyree has been charged with helping municipal and corporate customers meet federal and state environmental regulations to improve Alabama’s air and water quality along the way. “We help our customers balance their business objectives with environmental stewardship,” Tyree said. “That’s not an easy task since that often requires us to come up with new ways for factories, coal plants, or city water facilities to keep the air and water clean.”
EIA is working to represent a broad base of energy providers, not only in electricity, but also natural gas, Co-generation Biofuels, nuclear power, wind power, and petroleum, just to name a few.
The energy sector in Alabama is a key component to economic growth,” said Hammett. And he says EIA wants to represent that wide economic base to see job creation as well as promoting better energy policies.
Hammett has asked the Economic Partnership of Alabama to conduct a economic impact study on the energy sector in Alabama. Hammett believes the study will show that Alabama has a real advantage over other states in energy cost and availability.
EIA has pledged to bring together experts from the energy sector who will work to ensure strong, commonsense policies are put in place to protect the consumer, along with good-paying industry jobs, and the future of clean, reliable, and affordable energy.