From the President, USAEE

Lori Smith Schell, PhD, ERP
President, Empowered Energy
(Durango, CO)

As much as I love the autumn colors, I am never quite ready to let go of summer.  This summer was a busy one, highlighted by the 32nd USAEE/IAEE North American Conference in Anchorage, Alaska at the end of July.  Anchorage was at its best, providing us with warm sunny days for the duration of the conference.  The technical tours to the North Slope, Valdez, and local sites were well attended and provided great opportunities to engage with colleagues while taking in the magnificent Alaskan scenery.  The conference organizing committee provided a great lineup of plenary session speakers and the concurrent sessions included a breadth of topics.  The plenary session on Unconventional Oil and Gas Development was co-hosted with the Society of Petroleum Engineers, a professional collaboration that we hope to continue going forward.  The post-conference workshop on methane hydrates was well attended and engaging and took the concept of unconventional gas development a step further into the future.

We experienced keen competition in Anchorage among our student members, vying for generous cash prizes for the best paper (Dale Manning, UC-Davis), the best poster (Andre Barbe, Rice University), and the best case study (Michael Davidson, Michael Craig, Daniel Frederick Cross-Call, and Ashwini Bharatkumar, MIT).  Well-deserved recognition was given to Rice University's Baker Institute Center for Energy Studies in awarding it the USAEE Adelman Frankel Award.  I extend my congratulations to Gürcan Gulan, Mark Finley, and Arnie Baker for their recognition as USAEE Senior Fellows.  The level of energy evident during the opening reception, coffee breaks, and lunches was palpable and the reception at the Alaska Native Heritage Center was icing on the cake.  USAEE’s first North American conference to be held in Alaska was by all accounts a huge success.

Choosing to hold USAEE/IAEE’s North American conference in Alaska was not an easy decision for Council, given the uncertainty as to how many people would choose to invest the time and expense associated with just getting there.  The deciding factor was in no small part due to the enthusiasm on the ground of the local USAEE Chapter, the Anchorage Association for Energy Economics.  A significant fraction of the 270 conference delegates were from Alaska and included municipal, state and U.S. Congressional representatives or staffers.  I cannot overstate my appreciation and thanks for the local organizing efforts, headed up by Roger Marks and supported by Nick Szymoniak, Matt Berman, Greg McDuffie, and Joyce Lofgren, among others.  The local organizing efforts were bolstered by the hard work of the more seasoned veterans of conference planning at the national level, including Mina Dioun, Eric Hittinger, John Holding, Ken Medlock, Karl Nalepa, Burçu Cigerli, Ben Schlesinger, and of course, USAEE’s Executive Director Dave Williams.  A sincere thank you goes out to each of these tireless USAEE/IAEE supporters and to the many others who contributed their time and talents behind the scenes.  A separate thank you goes out to our many sponsors, without whose monetary support this conference could not have achieved the same level of success.

Attention now turns to next summer’s 37th IAEE International Conference, being held in conjunction with the USAEE from June 15-18, 2014 in New York City.  The topic of the conference is Energy and the Economy.  Conference planning is well under way and it is anticipated that this IAEE conference will draw the largest number of delegates ever.  I encourage you to join me in making your hotel reservations as early as possible at the conference hotel, The New Yorker; the conference hotel rate is very competitive for midtown Manhattan and the block of rooms will undoubtedly sell out early.  We will continue the student competitions for best paper, best poster, and best case study, and hope to enhance the concurrent sessions with at least one concurrent session devoted to professional development.  We experimented with this concept successfully in Anchorage with my tutorial on The ABCs of Energy Policy, in an effort to enhance the breadth of offerings to our diverse membership.

Also in Anchorage, the USAEE Council approved the proposal by the recently formed USAEE Three Rivers Chapter to hold the 33rd USAEE North American Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in September or October of 2015.  The theme of the conference will be The New Energy Landscape–Balancing Natural Resources Amid Innovation and Environmental Regulation.  We expect that Pittsburgh will be a popular venue given its location on the Marcellus Shale and the tremendous impact that the shale gas drilling boom has had in western Pennsylvania and the surrounding region.  Three Rivers Chapter members will be actively involved in the conference planning for New York City to get initiated into the USAEE conference planning process.

In a continuing effort to create value for all USAEE members, Council recently approved the creation of two new officer positions, the Vice President-Business and the Vice President-Government.  These two officer positions are meant to complement the existing Vice President-Academic Affairs in an effort to represent fully the diverse interests of the USAEE membership.  The addition of these two new positions is a major step toward meeting my primary goal for the year, which was to work further toward balancing the interests of our three main sources of membership, namely business/consulting, government, and academia (including students).  Thanks go to Shree Vikas and Karen Palmer for taking on the initial effort as the Vice President-Business and Vice President-Government, respectively.  The size of Council was expanded by one member to a total of 15 members while concurrently converting two formerly at-large Council member positions into officer positions.  The result is to keep three at-large Council members positions to use to familiarize new Council members with the Association’s governance for a year or two prior to their potentially moving into an officer position.   If you have ideas on specific areas or activities where the two new officer positions should focus, please contact me at LSchell@EmpoweredEnergy.com or at (970) 247-8181.

It has been an honor and a pleasure for me to serve as USAEE’s President this year.  It takes a tremendous amount of effort to keep an organization like USAEE not only going but growing, while maintaining relevance and providing value to its members.  The strength of USAEE is its educational non-advocacy mission, the enthusiasm of its members, and the willingness of those members to commit their time and talents at whatever level the other responsibilities in their lives allow.  This is as true at the national level for the USAEE as it is at the international level for the IAEE.  I have had the good fortune to be an eye witness to this enthusiasm while participating in several IAEE regional conferences this year, including the 4th Latin American Meeting of Energy Economics in Montevideo, Uruguay, in April and the 13th IAEE European Conference in Düsseldorf, Germany, in August.  I am proud to be associated with the members of the USAEE and the IAEE and thank you once again for the opportunity to have served you this year.

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