Smart Energy Initiative’s Annual Briefing Sheds Light on Pennsylvania’s Energy Future

SEI Energy Briefing(l to r) Jim Lauckner, Project Consultant for the Smart Energy Initiative of Southeastern PA (SEI), an initiative of the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC); Gary Smith, CEO of CCEDC; Jessica Shirley, Interim Acting Secretary for the PA Department of Environmental Protection; Steve Krug, Principal of Krug Architects and SEI Board Chair /Submitted Image

EXTON, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) joined forces this week with regional energy industry leaders at the 12th Annual Energy Briefing organized by the Smart Energy Initiative (SEI) of Southeastern PA. As part of the Chester County Economic Development Council’s program, the Thursday briefing offered invaluable insights into the energy markets, policies, and opportunities anticipated in 2024. These insights spanned across both state and national levels, providing a comprehensive understanding of the landscape.

The key topics included how companies can finance their energy projects using funds and tax credits available through the Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, the true impacts of alternative energy on energy bills, and how companies can leverage this knowledge to make strategic decisions. The briefing also touched on the effects of commercial-scale deployment of low-cost, clean hydrogen following the U.S. Department of Energy’s recent $7-billion launch of seven Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs). This initiative may include the local MACH2 Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub project.

“Understanding energy trends and navigating new initiatives and incentives is essential not just for energy consultants, facilities managers, architects, engineers, developers, and municipality managers, but also for companies in other industries that may benefit from these programs,” said Jim Lauckner, SEI Project Consultant.

Michael Grigalonis, President and COO of the Chester County Economic Development Council, emphasized the energy industry’s far-reaching impact on all aspects of life. He reiterated the organization’s commitment to supporting and strengthening the energy sector to foster economic growth while preserving Chester County’s quality of life.

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Jessica Shirley, Interim Acting Secretary of the PA DEP, delivered the keynote presentation. She highlighted the agency’s extensive work to address legacy pollution and the future impacts of climate change in Pennsylvania. She also detailed the DEP’s efforts to identify and leverage federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Inflation Reduction Act to advance transformative projects across the Commonwealth.

Shirley mentioned the DEP’s aggressive work to plug leaking oil and gas wells across Pennsylvania, using state and federal funds. She also touched upon IIJA funding to accelerate the reclamation of Pennsylvania’s abandoned mine land and working with PENNVEST to improve water quality through investments in infrastructure.

David Ferro, CEO of Optics Consulting, LLC, offered the audience insights into how alternative energy projects could affect a company’s bottom line, enabling improved decision-making. He discussed transitional solutions to achieving sustainability and the impact of energy efficiency and load management on utility/energy invoices.

The 12th Annual Energy Briefing attracted SEI’s network of energy professionals across 13 counties, who regularly convene to promote the growth of the smart energy industry in the region. The briefing was sponsored by PECO and Brandywine Valley Heating & Air Conditioning.

As Pennsylvania moves towards a sustainable energy future, such briefings play a crucial role in disseminating knowledge, fostering collaborations, and promoting strategic decision-making. With the DEP and key players in the energy sector leading the way, Chester County is well-positioned to harness these opportunities for economic growth and environmental preservation.

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