Renewable energy forum held at UTM
Posted: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 12:03 am
This was one of the many issues discussed at the Crockett Policy Institute’s forum on renewable energy and job creation at UT Martin Tuesday evening.
A distinguished panel of academics, elected officials, and industry leaders outlined the corridor’s ongoing development and outlined steps to nurture a profitable, lasting industrial base.
The distinguished panel was introduced by Crockett Policy President LtGen John Castellaw (Ret.), and was moderated by UTM’s own Dr. James Byford.
Panelists included Dr. Joey Mehlhorn of UTM, Sen. Roy Herron, Rep. Andy Holt, Andrew Holland of the American Security Project in Washington, DC, and Pat Riley, general manager of Gibson County Utility District.
Castellaw summed up the forum’s findings.
“Here in West Tennessee, we have the feedstocks to create renewable energy in abundance. Whether you’re talking about biomass like corn, soybeans or switchgrass, or solar or wind power – even natural gas, we have it all right here. Most importantly, we also have ready access to the consumers of fuel and power, such as Federal Express and Delta in Memphis, and the mid-America transportation nexus of railroads, highways airports and two major rivers.
“Industry is already coming here,” he continued. “Companies like Green Plains in Obion are already producing competitively priced renewable energy right here in West Tennessee. Public-private initiatives like the solar farm in Haywood County will spur investment in new technologies. The work of organizations like the Memphis Bioworks Foundation in Memphis and our educational institutions are working to educate dislocated workers and retrain them for renewable energy jobs.”
Forum participants spent two hours discussing opportunities for economic development through renewable energy and accepting questions from the audience.
“I was very pleased we had such a thoughtful, productive discussion in the spirit of cooperation. In today’s world, we too often allow politics or pre-conceived ideas get in the way of solving the very real problems we face. That’s why we formed Crockett Policy,” he said.
The Crockett Policy Institute is a non-partisan research and policy organization with claims it is dedicated to improving the lives of Tennesseans by providing practical, workable, and fair solutions to address the challenges facing the state. The Institute seeks to build consensus around moderate, common-sense proposals to make Tennessee a better place to live, to work and to raise kids, according to a news release.