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Energizing Appalachia: A Regional Blueprint for
Economic and Energy Development


ARC's Energy Goal

Develop the Appalachian Region's energy potential to increase the supply of locally produced, clean, affordable energy, and to create and retain jobs.

Strategic Objectives for Economic and Energy Development

Strategic Objective 1: Promote energy efficiency in Appalachia to enhance the Region's economic competitiveness.

Strategic Objective 2: Increase the use of renewable energy resources, especially biomass, in Appalachia to produce alternative transportation fuels, electricity, and heat.

Strategic Objective 3: Support the development of conventional energy resources, especially advanced clean coal, in Appalachia to produce alternative transportation fuels, electricity, and heat.

The Appalachian Region is rich in energy resources—conventional fossil fuels, as well as renewable and alternative energy fuels. The Region's mines currently produce more than a third of the nation's coal, and its electrical utilities provide 15 percent of the nation's electrical output. The development of alternative and renewable energy in the Region is growing rapidly.

In February 2006, at a governors' quorum meeting of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and the ARC federal co-chair called for the creation of an "Energy Blueprint" for Appalachia, in response to today's changing energy supply, policy, and use environment. The Commission's objective was to provide a strategic framework for the promotion of new energy-related job opportunities through the stimulation of sustainable energy production, efficiency measures, and innovation efforts throughout the Region. Many Appalachian states are pursuing economic development through energy, but the ARC federal and state partners recognized the potential for greater benefit to the Region by acting together.

In developing the Blueprint, ARC took three steps. First, it commissioned a series of research studies to assess current conditions regarding renewable and conventional energy sectors in the nation and the Region. Second, it convened three public roundtables in the Region, where a total of more than 100 industry experts, educators, government officials, and entrepreneurs discussed energy opportunities, challenges, and strategies for developing a strong regional economy in Appalachia based on its energy assets. Third, it created the Energy Advisory Council (EAC), comprising high-ranking representatives from the energy offices of each of the 13 Appalachian states, and representatives from the local development districts, to identify energy strategies for the Region.

This document condenses key findings and shares initial recommendations from the research studies, the regional energy roundtables, and the work of the EAC. Section I provides an overview of the global, national, and regional energy landscapes. Section II explains the Energy Blueprint's goal and strategic objectives. Section III identifies specific strategies that can be pursued by ARC and its partners.

During 2007, ARC will develop a number of the specific strategies noted in Section III of the Blueprint. Using this experience as a guide, the Commission will give enhanced focus to job creation through energy innovation and development in 2008 and beyond.

As an economic development agency, ARC has an important role to play in energy development, not only because energy is a major expense in the budgets of businesses, households, and the public sector, but also because it is a sector of the economy that has the potential to create a large number of jobs and boost the competitiveness of the Appalachian Region.