Electric cars, abundant natural gas reserves, the future of nuclear power and alternative energy sources were all included in presentations as part of the Illinois Agricultural Leadership Program (IALP) Class of 2012 “Energy Outlook Seminar Sponsored by Martin L. Andreas.” The seminar participants traveled to Chicago for the three-day seminar that included 12 sessions featuring 14 speakers.
Throughout a two-year period the group attended 14 seminars covering current social, political and economic issues in the agriculture industry. The Class of 2012 graduates in August. At the Energy Outlook Seminar, participants received an overview of the United States’ energy supply, presented by Tom Wolf, Executive Director of the Energy Council of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. Brian Quirke, Midwest Director of Communications for the U.S. Department of Energy, discussed Federal energy policy, while participants received an overview of Illinois energy policy from Senator Mike Jacobs (D-36th, Moline), Chair of the Illinois Senate Energy Committee.
Dave Sykuta, President of the Illinois Petroleum Council, discussed oil imports, pipelines and supply. Participants then heard from Trevor Smith, Director of the Gas Technology Institute, on the abundance of natural gas available in the United States and the economic factors that have driven the cost of natural gas to record lows. Tony Will, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Distribution for CF Industries discussed agricultural uses of natural gas.
Marc Klein, head of Chicago office of Clean Energy Fuels, Inc., a company founded by T. Boone Pickens, discussed efforts to establish natural gas filling stations across the United States. The company plans to form a chain of refueling stops to allow natural gas-fueled trucks to make a continuous route across America using the lower cost fuel. Mary Culler from Ford Motor Company talked about the surging market for electric automobiles and trucks in the United States, and the types of alternative fuel vehicles being developed by Ford.
Among other companies utilizing natural gas as an alternative fuel for vehicles is Caterpillar Corporation. Kevin Bruch, Division Manager for Gas Engine Electronics, indicated that Cat has positioned itself to offer natural gas as well as diesel and other fuel alternatives in its product line.
A discussion of other energy sources included presentations by Ryan Siegal, the Campus Energy and Sustainability Coordinator at Eastern Illinois University. The university recently installed a biomass-fueled energy plant as a replacement to an aging coal-fired facility. Kevin Borgia, Manager of Public Policy for Wind on the Wires, discussed land use and return-on-investment for wind energy. John Caupert, Director of the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center, presented current research efforts for biomass fuels, and Erica Grajciar, from Exelon’s Byron Station Chemistry Department, gave an overview of Illinois’ nuclear power generating capabilities, which allows the state to export electric power to the rest of the nation.
The Illinois Agricultural Leadership Foundation was founded in 1981. It is a non-profit educational corporation under Illinois law. A board of directors, comprised of recognized leaders in agriculture and business, oversees the program.