Commentary: ‘All of the above’ energy policy can drive growth

Commentary: ‘All of the above’ energy policy can drive growth
July 21
13:00 2017

By Algenon Cash

I’ve been advocating for a smart, sensible energy policy in our country and state for close to a decade as a national spokesperson for the oil and gas industry.  But I routinely caution elected leaders not to have a limited paradigm; we must focus on a balanced “all of the above” strategy with market forces centrally in mind when crafting energy policy.  Utilizing a portfolio approach to sourcing energy is not only smart, but it allows for versatility and incremental steps toward less reliance on fossil fuels – which must be a slow careful process with substantive input from consumers, government and industry.

So I applaud the North Carolina General Assembly for passing comprehensive energy legislation that will improve the competitiveness of solar power production by reducing overall costs for utilities and its customers.  Early estimates from Duke Energy say the bill could result in $850 million in savings for customers over 10 years.  The measure now sits on Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk, awaiting his signature.  Cooper strongly supported the version that passed the House. Lawmakers often disagree about the subsidies afforded to renewable energy, but the government provides tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic properties and textile mills, we pursue companies with a mixed bag of financial incentives hoping to lure in new jobs – in my opinion these are smart investments – but there should be no hypocritical objection to using subsidies for infrastructure development that benefit long-term energy security.

Consider that renewables now provide 15 percent of the nation’s power supply compared to around 10 percent in 2008.  Government subsidies and a range of financial incentives drove most of the growth, but if our government is going to make long-range capital investments, then I can’t think of a much better option than shoring up our energy resources.  Keep in mind energy security equates to national, fiscal and economic security.

I testified at a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission hearing in support of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a multi-state infrastructure project for the distribution of natural gas.  Thoughtful infrastructure projects attract significant capital investment, jumpstart job growth, and increase local revenue to support critical services while aiding communities transitioning into a new economic reality.Not to mention, fossil fuels have a well-established foothold and must be protected, they provide 80 percent of the energy demand globally.

If we decided to rid the world of fossil fuels, then it would cost $20 trillion to upgrade the infrastructure and the project may not be complete until 2035.  However, more investment into aging transmission infrastructure with built-in storage capacity will go a long way to overcoming the intermittency issues with sourcing solar and wind energy for electricity needs. Energy policy is complex, involving a wide range of constituencies and real lives at the center.  Only an “all of the above” strategy will prove effective.

Algenon Cash is the managing director of Wharton Gladden & Company, an investment banking firm, and a national spokesperson for the oil and natural gas industry.  Reach him at

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