Gov. Mary Fallin’s third-annual energy conference successfully exhibited Oklahoma’s key role in the nation’s current energy renaissance. More than 500 guests attended the conference at Tulsa’s Cox Business Center and I witnessed firsthand the well-represented industries and people from across the energy spectrum.
Speakers at the conference included industry leaders such as C. Michael Ming, general manager at the new Oil & Gas Technology Center GE Global Research building in Oklahoma City; Michael Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy Partners; Michael Teague, Oklahoma secretary of energy and environment; Gary Demasi, Google director of operations for data center location strategy and energy; and Merl Lindstrom, vice president of technology at Phillips 66.
The conference also included two panel discussions. The first panel discussion included the presidents of Oklahoma State University and Oklahoma City University, Burns Hargis and Robert Henry respectively, and covered the topic of educating a new generation of energy leaders. The second panel discussion featured several of Tulsa’s energy leaders, including Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s welcome.
Demasi talked about Google’s important partnership with Oklahoma. Google has invested $700 million in its data center in Pryor – one of only nine Google data centers in the world. The company’s partnership with Oklahoma has led to $369 million in economic activity, and Google has contracted for 390 megawatts of wind energy in the region. Google recently acquired a former Gatorade manufacturing facility in Pryor. The tech giant shared its plans to continue expanding its renewable-energy portfolio and continue its important partnership with Oklahoma.
The keynote speaker at the conference was North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple. Dalrymple spoke about North Dakota’s role in the domestic energy renaissance, particularly the oil-rich Bakken boom. He noted that despite the current energy boom, even more progress can be achieved by industry-leading states like North Dakota and Oklahoma, which have demonstrated regulatory approaches that find a healthy balance between energy production and the environment. He also noted the significant benefits the industries’ production means to their economy and their state budget.
Fallin spoke at the conference, advocating for continued investment in the Oklahoma energy industry. Fallin suggested that Oklahoma’s energy plan can provide a national blueprint for growth and reminded us that the state’s energy plan supports a broad range of energy initiatives, including hydraulic fracturing for natural gas production, energy efficiencies where possible, compressed natural gas vehicles, and development of solar and wind power. Fallin said Oklahoma energy companies have played an important role in making the United States more energy-independent, calling Oklahoma the best place in the world for energy investments.
The conference showcased just how important Oklahoma’s role is in the current energy renaissance. While Oklahoma has long been a leader in oil and natural gas production, the conference also demonstrated that Oklahoma is increasingly becoming an industry leader in wind energy development. Fallin’s all-of-the-above energy approach enables Oklahoma to reap the benefits of industry giants like Continental Resources, Oneok and Google, which will continue to bring tremendous economic benefits to our state. Fallin’s energy conference demonstrated that Oklahoma is on the right track and will continue to be on the cutting edge of the U.S. energy industry. The job was well-done, again.