Monday, May 3, 2010

Energy one key to Solano's economy

By Doug Ford
Posted: 05/03/2010 01:01:33 AM PDT

Most of us know far too little about our national, state and even local economy. The Solano Economic Development Corporation (Solano EDC) has been doing a wonderful job in helping community leaders to become better informed.

In our increasingly complex world, we each have to focus most of our efforts on the day-by-day need to earn a living and provide for the well-being of our families. And so it is a great service to our community that we have one organization close by that can help us greatly in understanding how all the parts of our economy work (and sometimes don't work) together to provide all the resources we need to have a high standard of living.

Participation is not limited to current community leaders. Anyone who wants a wider view of our county and how all the parts fit together, anyone who wants to become a better-informed citizen and help make our community a better place to live in, should consider getting involved in the Solano EDC.

A key component of Solano's economy is the energy sector. It has two parts. The carbon-based segment includes over 40 businesses "in oil and gas drilling and petroleum refining, and energy generation and distribution." (Search for Solano County's Energy Cluster).

At its April 20 meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield, the American Petroleum Institute's (API) senior economist, Sara Banaszak, provided a broad overview of her industry and its foreseeable future. While Solano's employment in this segment has been stable at about 1,200 workers for 10 years and is expected to remain so, our state and national production will have to grow to meet the expanding demand for energy. Banaszak tried to correct some "lingering myths" about the industry. One myth is that the industry is still controlled by the "seven sisters," the huge American, British and Dutch oil companies often referred to as "Big Oil." But those companies, which controlled 85 percent of the world's oil reserves in 1970, now control just 6 percent.

National oil companies (NOCs), controlled by the governments of Russia, Venezuela and five Middle-Eastern nations, controlled less than 15 percent of the world's oil reserves in 1970, now have 94 percent. All are potentially hostile to American and European interests.

The API argues that America cannot maintain its energy security over the next 25 years unless it opens up and develops offshore oil and natural gas resources. The API's brief, "Energizing America: Facts for Addressing Energy Policy," is available on the Internet.

The second part of Solano's energy sector is clean energy, which is small but growing fast. Twenty businesses employed about 300 in 2008 in generating energy from solar and wind. Michael Ammann, Solano EDC president, is planning to schedule a meeting based on it soon.
The author is retired from the U.S. Air Force, lives in Dixon and serves on the Solano County Board of Education.