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Penn State Smeal partners with leading Washington think tank to host workshop on Pennsylvania’s energy future

June 15, 2018

CGBS group shot
Among the dignitaries who attended Preparing for Pennsylvania’s Energy Future were, from left to right: Charles H. Whiteman, John and Becky Surma Dean of Smeal; Sarah Ladislaw, senior vice president and director of the CSIS Energy and National Security Program; Stacey Olson, president of Chevron Appalachia; Fariborz Ghadar, William A. Schreyer Professor of Global Management, Policies and Planning and the founding director of the Center for Global Business Studies; and Denise Brinley, senior energy advisor for the Pennsylvania Department of Community Economic Development.
The Center for Global Business Studies in the Penn State Smeal College of Business partnered with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Energy & National Security Program to host a workshop titled “Preparing for Pennsylvania’s Energy Future, Workforce and Investment Opportunities” on May 31 in the Business Building on Penn State’s University Park campus.

CSIS is a bipartisan, nonprofit policy research organization dedicated to providing strategic insights and policy solutions to help decision makers chart a course toward a better world. CSIS has been commissioned to conduct a state-by-state evaluation of energy policy in leading energy states. 

CSIS is collaborating with leading academic institutions in each state to help foster discussion about energy policies and to gather recommendations. Pennsylvania was selected as the first state due to its burgeoning natural gas industry and projections that it will soon overtake Texas as the leading producer of natural gas in the United States. 

Fariborz Ghadar, William A. Schreyer Professor of Global Management, Policies and Planning and the founding director of the Center for Global Business Studies, serves on the advisory board of CSIS and helped arrange the workshop as part of Penn State’s Energy Days conference. 

Energy Days is an annual conference that brings together leaders from across the energy realm, including members of industry, government, non-profits, and academia. The purpose is to identify and discuss the regional, national, and global energy challenges facing society. In addition to plenary sessions, there are a series of focused workshops on key topics where specific and compelling outcomes are in reach. 

Similarly, “Preparing for Pennsylvania’s Energy Future” was designed to foster a discussion of emerging trends which will impact Pennsylvania most directly and what strategies Pennsylvania energy stakeholders should employ to deal with those changes.

“Our discussion included a diverse group of key stakeholders from within Pennsylvania and beyond,” Ghadar said. “Energy stakeholders throughout the state have prioritized a strategic focus on turning energy into an economic opportunity for the region. How Pennsylvania manages energy opportunities and new developments matters not only on the state and local level, but on the regional and national level as well.” 

Discussions focused on driving discussion about the key dimensions of these four questions:

  • What are Pennsylvania’s energy workforce development challenges and how are companies, universities, and state organizations investing in human capital?
  • What is Pennsylvania’s approach to becoming a hub of energy sector innovation and what progress has been made to date?
  • What is the current state of the investment and infrastructure climate in Pennsylvania and how are stakeholders working together to develop a strategy to ensure infrastructure investment and planning across the energy sector?
  • How are the public and private sector working to create and sustain a favorable investment climate?

Two of the dominant themes that emerged were that Pennsylvania has to address a shortage of skilled laborers and it needs to find solutions to its existing supply chain systems, which are disjointed and lacking. 

“Our next task is to summarize all relevant observations and suggestions and generate a report,” Ghadar said. “We will then share those findings and recommendations with policy makers in Harrisburg, Washington, and around the country.”

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