Frank discussions about the state’s energy future will be featured during the 2009 South Carolina Energy Summit at Columbia’s Metropolitan Convention Center Monday. The summit is being sponsored by the South Carolina Minority Business Enterprise Center. Representatives from the fields of Engineering, Business, Industry, Education and Government will be on hand for the day long summit to discuss alternative types of energy, mantaining the state and the nation’s energy security, and meeting the greater energy demands of a growing population and a growing industrial community.6th District Congressman James Clyburn will be one of the features speakers at the summit. Santee Cooper Director of Government and Community Relations Richard Kizer says his message will center on the challenge that utilities face of incorporating alternative forms of energy with coal and nuclear in order to keep energy at a low cost for business and residential customers.
“South Carolina has benefitted for years now from having reliable low cost power. We have benefitted by recruitng industry and improving the quality of life for everyone who lives here. We have benefitted from low cost energy in the past, its driven our economy, so we have to ask ourselves “how do we maintain that going forward?.”
Kyzer says today the state relies on coal and nuclear for the bulk of its energy generation and while alternative fuels will be incorporated on the grid, coal and nuclear will remain the staple for the foreseeable future.
“Currently we have a state that is receiving about 61% of its energy from coal and about 30% from nuclear. So the bulk of our energy is coming from those two sources. 15 years from now I don’t know if there’s a big change in that, but you’ll start seeing a change probably 10, 15, 20 years from now where you’ll see more renewables on the systems.”
In the not too distant future, Kyzer envisions utility companies offering a variety of alternative energy choices in an effort to augment coal and nuclear generation. ” you’ll see Methane gas, more biomass projects, possibly some wind projects, and if technology moves along you could see more solar projects. I think that’s where you’ll see the change and that will be how I believe the industry looks different 10, 15. 20 years from now.”
Kyzer says renewables will be an integral part but not be the total answer for our future energy needs. A mixture of the alternative and traditional forms of energy generation makes the best sense from an economical point of view.
Kyzer says polls indicate that people want more alternative or green energy choices, but they do not follow through on requesting the alternative energies that may be available because affordablity takes precedent when households and businesses are keeping a keen eye on the bottom line.
“Survey results show a lot of interest, but in the actual sign up and follow through there is a disconnect. But regardless, we’re still pursuing them. That is the way of the future. You’re going to see utilities putting more renewables online but part of that message that we have to communicate is when they come online those renewables sources are going to be more expensive than our traditional generation.”
Kyzer says as technology improves in the future, alternative energies will likely become less expensive for the consumer.