The Governor's 2012 Energy Development Summit, held in Salt Lake City on Feb. 15, was such an overwhelming success that plans for the 2013 summit call for a regional event that will utilize a greater portion of the Salt Palace Convention Center in order to accommodate many more attendees, sponsors and exhibitors.
"The 2012 Energy Summit was an amazing event, with more than 1,000 attendees (including representatives from 21 states and 10 from Canada), 80 sponsors and 75 exhibitors," said Samantha Mary Julian, director of the Utah Office of Energy Development. "We knew the summit was necessary, but we were uncertain of the response we would get. As it turned out, the response was fantastic."
It was so fantastic, in fact, that more people wanted to attend and more businesses wanted to sponsor or exhibit than the first-of-its-kind Utah summit could accommodate. Hence, the plans for expanding next year's summit into a larger space in the Salt Palace. To make the 2013 summit a regional event, Julian said her office plans to invite the other energy offices from Utah's energy-producing neighbors to participate.
Energy Advisor Amanda Smith couldn't be more pleased with the event. "This was a great opportunity for people in academia, industry and government to learn from one another and cross pollinate on ideas for technology and transfer of technology to market, funding opportunities and creative solutions to address doing business on our public lands," she said.
Governor Herbert and Dr. Arun Majumdar
Between 800-900 attendees packed into the main hall for summit addresses by Gov. Herbert and U.S. Department of Energy Acting Under Secretary Dr. Arun Majumdar.
Gov. Herbert began his remarks by noting that the National Security Agency chose to locate its billion-dollar data center in Utah largely because of the state's abundant supply of low-cost electricity. "Utah's stable and affordable energy gives us a major competitive advantage over other states, and is one of the major reasons companies are choosing to relocate and expand in our state," he said.
Gov. Herbert noted the creation of a partnership between the state's private sector and major universities to create an "energy research triangle" that is launching Utah into a new era of energy technology innovation. "I have often said that Utah's greatest natural resource is its people. I firmly believe that no state has a spirit of innovation or a culture of industry to match Utah. Hence, Utah will be the incubator of technologies that will allow us to extract, conserve, and produce energy in a more efficient, safe, and environmentally-friendly way than we ever have before," he told summit attendees.
Securing Utah's energy future means that not only will the state continue to be in position to export energy, but it will also be poised to export homegrown energy technology, Gov. Herbert further explained.
In the last fiscal year, direct revenues to the State of Utah from the energy sector totaled more than $267,500,000, according to Gov. Herbert. That money was used to fund critical needs like education, transportation and human services. "The energy sector is a vital part of our state's economy, and a vital part of the lives of Utahns in so many ways," he said, noting that the energy sector directly employs approximately 16,400 Utahns. Those jobs pay, on average, 191 percent of the state average wage, while 2.5 percent of Utah's total wages are from energy jobs. Further, there are over 800 energy firms currently doing business in Utah.
Julian says Dr. Arun Majumdar's visit to Utah recognizes the state's important role in energy development and his breadth of experience and vision for the future set an exciting tone for the summit. U.S. Senator Mike Lee also spoke to summit attendees via a live video feed from Washington. Lee spoke about conventional energy and land issues that are affecting Utah and the nation. Land issues continue to be a hindrance to Governor Herbert's goal of energy independence for Utah, since much of the state's natural resources must be extracted from federally managed public lands.
In addition to the addresses by Gov. Herbert, Dr. Majumdar and Sen. Lee, summit attendees were treated to 20 breakout sessions lead by experts from industry, academia and government. Approximately 550 attendees packed into the various breakout sessions, which covered topics ranging from conventional, unconventional, renewable and energy efficiency development opportunities. While all of the breakout sessions were well attended, Julian said summit attendees expressed a great deal of interest in alternative energy resources -- such as biofuels, oil shale and oil sands, renewable energy and industrial energy efficiency.
"The level of participation and interest gave my office insight into areas where we can provide additional information and follow-up," she explained. "Moreover, the summit proved to be an effective tool for promoting energy development consistent with Governor Herbert's plan for Utah to be an energy producing state, to be energy self-sufficient, to advocate responsible energy resource development, to promote policies and practices for improved air quality, and to aggressively pursue technology innovations in energy efficiency and development. Based upon our experience from this first summit, we expect next year's regional summit to be even better."