Town Hall Meeting: Flipping the Switch: The Energy Complex Demystified

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Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 6:00 PM-7:30 PM
608 (Washington State Convention Center)

Weather is a critical driver for the consumption of electricity, natural gas, and heating oil in the United States. Meteorologists in academia, government, and the private weather enterprise all support decision makers across the full breadth of the energy complex. The economic impacts the these weather-related decisions are enormous. For example, U.S. electricity generators save upward of $160 million annually using 24-hour temperature forecasts to improve the mix of generating units that are available to meet electricity demand. Planning decisions for the production, transportation, and marketing of natural gas hinge upon temperature forecasts 1 week to 3 months ahead. The value of weather forecasts for the increased use and integration of weather-dependent renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, has also been recognized by the Department of Energy. Hundreds of meteorologists support the energy complex for commodity trading, infrastructure planning, and utility management in order to meet the nationís demand to heat and cool our indoor environments. But how does it all actually work? What happens when you flip the switch? This panel of experts will describe how the energy complex functions. How does power flow? What is the nature of energy trading? How do fuel sources differ across various regions of the country? How do oil and natural gas get to your furnace? Answers to these basic questions then lead us to consider the rapid modernization of the energy complex. How will the "smart grid" affect energy planning? How is renewable energy changing the grid? And, of course, how does weather affect energy decision making? It is important within this context to note that the patchwork of regional energy entities and varying regional climate impacts further complicate the relationships between energy supply and weather-driven demand. The objective of this Town Hall Meeting is to provide the AMS community with a better understanding of the energy industry and then open a discussion on the major issues facing weather experts in the energy realm. We will discuss the ongoing and emerging challenges presented by weather and climate. We will conclude with an open forum focusing on two distinct questions for panelists and participants: 1) What do meteorologists need to know from the energy industry? and 2) What does the energy industry need to know from meteorologists? This Town Hall Meeting serves as an introduction to the Second Conference on Weather, Climate, and the New Energy Economy as well as following up on Mondayís Town Hall Meeting discussion on renewable energy For additional information, please contact Stephen Bennett (tel: 858-246-0065; e-mail:
Hosts: (Joint between the Town Hall Meetings; and the Second Conference on Weather, Climate, and the New Energy Economy )
  6:00 PM
How does energy work?
Russell L. Bigley, Xcel Energy, Littleton, CO
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