At the 9th Annual Kentucky Chamber Energy Management Conference, the U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette began the program by celebrating the nation’s energy production dominance and noted that in 2020 the U.S. will become a net energy exporter for the first time in his lifetime. He explained the geopolitical realities of the U.S. energy production levels noting the recent tensions in the middle east and the fact that gas prices did not spike despite the unrest.
In avoiding gasoline spikes, the secretary explained that the U.S. has set records for the past two years for oil production and will again this year. Furthermore, the U.S. has become the top producer of natural gas, and while the low cost of natural gas has put pressure on other fossil fuels and nuclear energy it can be exported benefitting the U.S.
Also speaking at the conference, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee agreed the nation’s natural gas production and growth are significant. Both speakers pointed to the energy transition with Secretary Brouillette noting that the world energy market has changed “dramatically in the last 10 years.”
The secretary spoke about how the U.S. has transitioned from a net energy importer to a net energy exporter by focusing on innovation and removing unnecessary regulations that slow progress. He pointed to the swifter approval of liquified natural gas export terminals as an example of a benefit of the regulatory streamlining underway in D.C.
Secretary Brouillette also spoke about the recent U.S.-Canada-Mexico trade agreement finalized earlier this week and said it would rebalance the trade relationship between the three countries. He expects this will create expansion opportunities for energy both directly from trade as well as through increased demands as more manufacturing returns to the U.S. and Kentucky.
Chairman Chatterjee discussed the impact the transition is having on Kentucky as coal production declines and coal-fired power plants close across the country in the wake of low-cost alternatives. In the fall of 2019, he brought energy leaders from across the U.S. to Kentucky so they could better understand the state and the impact the transition is having in Kentucky and to talk about how Kentucky can take advantage of the transition.
Regarding renewables, Secretary Brouillette explained baseload power from fossil fuels and energy storage is key for expansion. He also said that while coal production has declined in the U.S., it hasn’t globally, and export options as well as improving the efficiency by which we use coal and the use of coal minerals in energy storage are key to its future.
Chairman Chatterjee also spoke about the future of coal but from the standpoint of regulating markets. He talked about the role of state’s in charting their own energy path but also noted some state policies intended to promote certain energy sources can cause distortions that can cause markets not to function properly.