Energizing Appalachia: A Regional Blueprint for Economic and Energy Development
Section III: ARC Strategies and Partnerships
The Appalachian Region can develop its energy potential to create and sustain jobs by meeting the challenges of promoting energy efficiency, increasing the use of renewable energy resources, and developing conventional energy resources.
Strong partnerships among federal, state, and local governments, particularly the U.S. Department of Energy and state energy offices; business and industry; research and educational institutions; public and private utilities; and non-governmental organizations will be vital to helping the Region achieve this goal. All will have key roles to play in helping the Region develop more efficient, safer, cleaner, locally produced energy.
To aid in ARC's work on these strategies, and as part of its commitment to advancing the overall goal, objectives, and strategies of the Energy Blueprint, the Commission will establish the Energy Advisory Council as a standing ARC committee. This will allow the 13 Appalachian states to continue to collaborate and share energy-related information and opportunities to move the Region forward.
In partnership with Appalachian state energy offices, relevant federal agencies, local development districts, local governments, state utility commissions and others, ARC will consider the following strategies, within funding limitations, to address the Energy Blueprint objectives.
ARC Strategies for Objective 1
Energy efficiency is central to maintaining the cost competitiveness of the Region's manufacturers, and plays a key role in business and job retention. Although increased energy efficiency investments may reduce the demand for specific energy uses, the fact that total per capita energy consumption is currently rising, and is forecast to continue to rise, indicates that there is room for efficiency gains without decreasing aggregate energy demand for regional energy producers, particularly the electrical generation sectors.
Energy efficiency investments with payback periods of two years or less are immediately beneficial to the Region because they can reduce energy bills for households, businesses, and the public sector, and recover the costs of investment quickly. In addition, such investments create a variety of direct jobs in the construction, renovation, and energy- audit businesses in the Region and stimulate indirect jobs among manufacturing suppliers and service businesses.
ARC will consider the following strategies under Objective 1. Where programs are already in place, ARC will support the expansion of program activities in the Region.
- Support the development of programs to perform energy audits and retrofits of public buildings and identify and develop employment opportunities in the energy-efficiency sector.
- Develop an energy-efficient housing initiative with a focus on low-income families.
- Support the training of technicians, engineers, apprentices, workers, and managers to implement energy-efficiency activities.
- Promote public awareness campaigns for energy-efficiency opportunities for residential, industrial, and commercial application.
- Support the development of industrial and commercial energy-efficiency programs.
- Promote a regionwide program of performance-based energy-efficiency contracting, in which contractors are paid with savings resulting from energy-efficiency improvements .
- Support research and analysis to identify the best regional job growth opportunities in the energy-efficiency sectors, and assess the net effects of efficiency on the Region's economy, particularly the existing energy base.
ARC Strategies for Objective 2
Appalachia's renewable energy resource base contains considerable untapped potential that could be readily used to produce alternative sources of power and fuels. In addition to business- and job-creation potential in the production of these new power and fuel sources, the industrial base of the Region is competitively well positioned to supply the necessary resources for these energy production and conversion processes. In some cases, regional businesses are already engaged in the production of these emerging energy technologies, particularly wind turbine components, solar components and photovoltaic panels, biofuel plants, and other components and parts. From an economic development perspective, there are numerous supplier-chain links that could be cultivated among existing businesses to supply other resources for these alternative energy technologies. A strategic cluster-based approach to the most competitive alternative energy sectors would position the Region to develop its comparative advantages.
ARC will consider the following strategies under Objective 2. Where programs are already in place, ARC will support the expansion of program activities in the Region.
- Develop "green economic development corridors" along Appalachian highways, which would support business development and provide consumers with access to alternative transportation fuels.
- Support the training of technicians, engineers, apprentices, workers, and managers for renewable energy jobs.
- Support the implementation of risk reduction strategies, such as creation of government-guaranteed markets, to aid in the development of renewable energy businesses.
- Promote business development in renewable energy by encouraging the use of energy incubators, entrepreneurship programs, industrial clustering, and similar tools.
- Support research and analysis to identify the best regional job growth opportunities in the renewable energy sectors, including developing supplier chains and clustering value-added activities, and assess the net effects of renewable development on the Region's economy, particularly the existing energy base.
- Promote public awareness campaigns for renewable energy opportunities.
ARC Strategies for Objective 3
New, advanced coal and other fossil fuel technologies hold potential over the next five to ten years to yield competitive energy products, including gas and liquid fuels for electricity generation and as substitutes for imported transportation fuels. With the proper policy support, it should be possible to demonstrate the feasibility of manufacturing coal-to-liquids, coal-to-gas and coal-to-chemicals products and to stimulate engineering, construction, manufacturing, and distribution jobs in the Region. In addition, coal-gasification processes will make possible the extraction of pollutants, and carbon-gas capture and sequestration technologies, which will generate jobs for engineers, chemists, geologists, environmental scientists, and heavy construction workers.
ARC will consider the following strategies under Objective 3. Where programs are already in place, ARC will support the expansion of program activities in the Region.
Provide a forum to facilitate the pooling of demand for conventional energy.
Support the training of technicians, engineers, geologists, apprentices, miners and other workers and managers for jobs in conventional energy.
Support research and analysis to identify the best regional job growth opportunities in the advanced coal technology sectors, including developing supplier chains and clustering value-added activities, and assess the net effects of renewable development on the Region's economy, particularly the existing energy base.
Convene forums to discuss the future of clean coal in Appalachia , focusing on what public- and private-sector leaders throughout the Region can do to facilitate the development of emerging clean coal technologies.
Promote a K-12 education program by partnering with and expanding existing programs that familiarize students with energy issues, and with energy occupations and opportunities that will be developing throughout the Region in the coming years.
The Appalachian Region is well poised to take advantage of economic development opportunities in today's changing energy landscape. As the Energy Blueprint has shown, the Region possesses a diverse set of energy resources that hold the potential to generate additional businesses and jobs. Working together, the ARC partners can act as a catalyst to help the businesses and communities of Appalachia take full advantage of opportunities in energy efficiency, conventional energy production, and the development of renewable energy sources.