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Southeast Energy Leaders Meet to Discuss Innovation

More than 50 of the Carolinas’ business, government and research leaders met at the Duke Energy Conference Facility in Raleigh, N.C. as part of the Southeast Energy Innovation Collaborative Issues Summit. Tasked with identifying barriers in preventing the Southeast from being recognized as the nation’s energy innovation leader, the Summit was the first step in creating formalized recommendations for regional leaders to enact.

North Carolina Secretary of Commerce, Anthony Copeland, set the tone for the Summit, emphasizing energy innovation’s critical role in fueling the economy. Throughout the day, entrepreneurs, government officials, academics, association leaders, energy technology executives, and capital providers hammered out a list of issues to address in crafting a solution. Attendants identified nine issues that are keeping regional energy innovation from reaching its maximum potential.

The Issues Summit is the initial product of the Carolinas Energy Economy Survey report. Released in the spring of 2018, the report surveyed energy leaders from across the region in assessing the energy economy.

Rocky Sease, owner and CEO of SOS Intl (SOS), says he was honored to be selected to participate and sit at the table with the regional leaders. 

 “I believe everyone contributed diverse perspectives that will prove to be valuable as we reach a solution to this challenge and eventually present it to policy makers,” Sease says. 

John Hardin, Executive Director of the Office of Science, Technology & Innovation at the North Carolina Department of Commerce, says the Carolinas and adjoining areas in the Southeast are believed to be home to the largest energy economy in the eastern United States.

"Our survey indicated that the Carolinas’ energy economy and assets are not being effectively leveraged, and a disconnect in the quality of these assets exists among leaders from various sectors," he says. "The Energy Innovation Summits are an opportunity for leaders to convene, define issues and build solutions."

The Southeast Energy Innovation Initiative originated in late 2016 with the North Carolina Department of Commerce Office of Science, Technology & Innovation and E4 Carolinas deciding to explore the possibility the Southeast’s energy industry becoming the nation’s energy innovation leader. E4 Carolinas is the trade association for Carolina energy companies and organizations with has more than 150 members throughout the Southeast.

The inaugural Energy Innovation Issues Summit is the first of two summits planned for assessing the region’s energy economy and innovation potential. Invitees will reconvene at the Energy Innovation Solutions Summit to organize comprehensive solutions from these results. The second, and final, summit of these leaders will take place on January 31, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the focus on developing solutions to the issues addressed at the initial summit. Formal recommendations for the region’s policy makers are expected by the spring of 2019.

David Doctor, E4 Carolinas’ CEO, shared; “I have seldom observed such tenacity, ingenuity, passion and creativity in pursuing a vision. Everyone who committed to participate attended and contributed. We look forward to the next session and its output.” 

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