UPDATED: TVC Summit underway in Somerset

By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

The first day of the two-day Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit (TVC) ended Wednesday evening with an after dinner presentation by Anthony Cugini, Director of the National Energy technology Laboratory of the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The Summit, which returned to Somerset, KY for the first time in about eight years, drew about 200 registrants, according to John Crisp of AkinsCrisp Public Strategies, the administrative arm of the TVC organization.

The first TVC Summit was held in 1995 under a tent in Oak Ridge.

Three members of the Corridor’s Congressional delegation spoke Wednesday at the opening session of the latest iteration. They were Tennessee Congressmen John Duncan and Chuck Fleischmann and Kentucky Congressman Hal Rogers, the event’s host. All spoke of the importance of the Summit’s theme – America’s energy security – and the importance of partnerships across the five-state TVC region.

Gerald Boyd, retired DOE Oak Ridge Manager, and John Horack, Vice President for Research at the University of Alabama Huntsville, kicked-off the Summit with an overview about the importance of federal funding to the region.

Boyd, who is now Vice President for S.M. Stoller Corporation, said that $60 billion in federal funding flows into the region each year and cited the importance of the Huntsville facilities (Marshall Space Flight Center and Redstone Arsenal), Tullahoma (Arnold Engineering Development Center) and Knoxville-Oak Ridge (DOE’s facilities and the Tennessee Valley Authority{TVA}). Horack brought home the significance of the $60 billion when he said that it amounted to $2,000 per second “coming into the region.”

Len Peters, Secretary of Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet, delivered a keynote address ahead of an afternoon panel discussion about energy security. He struck a common theme that “we need to ensure that our energy portfolio is diverse.” Peters, who is a former Director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, talked about Kentucky’s seven-point plan for energy security and cited several examples of initiatives in the Bluegrass state. They included work that Jerry Rickett and Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation (KHIC) have been doing in near zero energy homes and a partnership involving the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky, Argonne National Laboratory and the Commonwealth focused on advanced battery technologies.

Following Peters’ presentation, Tom Rogers of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) moderated a panel that included Peters, Anda Ray, TVA Senior Vice President; Rickett, KHIC’s President; Jim Roberto, ORNL Associate Laboratory Director for S & T Partnerships; and Dan Schumacher, Director of the Science and Technology Office at Marshall.

Much of the panel discussion focused on what Roberto described as the “defining challenge of our times.” The importance of partnerships and a diverse portfolio of energy options were themes that were repeated by all panelists. There was also a good deal of discussion about small modular reactors.

The Summit wraps-up at noon Thursday.

 

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