Once again, this year’s Energy and Education Expo proved to be hugely popular. The Expo was held on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at the Kiwanis Wyoming County Fairgrounds in Meshoppen, PA.
The Energy and Education Expo has developed a penchant for several trends over its lifetime. The weather is typically cool and dreary; threatening to drop rain at any minute. The cars parked outside the Wyoming County Fairgrounds where it’s held are typically numerous. There are typically a great number of vendors, many of which are usually hiring. And finally, the typical headcount of attendees throughout the day are in the thousands.
So, one could say that the latest edition of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce’s (WYCCC) expo was typical, if “typical” means “hugely successful”, because that’s what it has been every year and on May 20, it was no different.
Nearly 90 vendors, ranging from E&P producers like Chief Oil & Gas to midstream companies like Williams to construction companies like Linde Corporation, came out to the fourth annual event to network with other businesses and connect with the community.
“Reaching out to the public is very important to us,” Bill Hampton of Sugar Hollow Water Services, a sponsor of the expo, said. “As a local company, it’s a great opportunity for us to showcase how far we have come and how we have plans still to grow. The changes made to the expo this year are good additions, and education about the industry is a good topic.”
The most notable change made to the event was the addition of five special presentations held throughout the day aimed to give attendees a broad, educational look into different aspects of the industry.
The largest crowd sat in on the first presentation of the day, which was provided by Penn State Extension’s Dave Messersmith, who focused on various topics of the future of the Marcellus Shale, including transmission line projects and gains in operational efficiency.
“There are currently over ten major transmission pipeline projects that would result in an increase of gas capacity of 14 billion cubic feet per day,” he said. “Operationally, companies are becoming more efficient in drilling their wells, meaning less cost, shorter well-drill times, longer wellbores and less water transport and remediation.”
However, Messersmith also warned of a continuing trend of “belt-tightening” as infrastructure is developed and companies wait to see the result of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s severance tax proposal.
“One of the main things we’ll be looking at is how all of these aspects impact the local workforce and service companies,” he said.
Other presentations included Holcombe Energy Resource and Cintas, which focused on the importance of SafeLand Training and fire-resistant clothing, respectively. UGI focused on the company’s GET Gas (Growth Extension Tariff) program, which seeks to assist residents in gaining access to clean, affordable natural gas energy for their homes.
“Where we used to get gas from the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 90 percent of UGI’s gas now comes from the Marcellus,” Don Brominski of UGI Utilities said. “This program looks to develop infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, and we’re to cooperate with communities and even Act 13 funds can be used to help realize this goal.”
Mike Atchie of Williams used his presentation to focus on the growth of natural gas as an energy option and the projects that the company has underway to meet that growth, such as the Constitution Pipeline and the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline.
“There is an overall increased demand for power, and the popularity of natural gas is quickly growing,” he said. “The sooner we can develop infrastructure to meet these demands, the greater we can become a cleaner energy user. Each infrastructure delay means tons upon tons more of CO2 emissions in our atmosphere.”
Finally, Alex Fried of Procter & Gamble recounted the story that he told at last week’s energy forum of how the paper-based products company went from a huge energy consumer to becoming entirely self-sufficient to even putting gas back into the grid because of the Marcellus Shale.
“We went from using 10 billion cubic feet of gas per year to putting 10,000 homes’ worth back into the market,” he said. “We already had the infrastructure to move the gas in place because we had been paying to have our gas transported to our Mehoopany plant from the Gulf of Mexico for years. We’ve found that now we actually use less natural gas because the Marcellus gas is a purer product, and we’ve also embraced the CNG movement into our daily operations as well.”
Overall, the expo proved to be hugely popular once again, whether attendees checked out the presentations or went directly to company representatives to learn more about the industry.
“The Chamber brings together in this community-minded event the businesses, government agency and non-profits to promote, educate, network and fulfill employment needs,” WYCCC Executive Director Gina Suydam said in a written letter provided at the expo. “Through this event and others that the Chamber will host, we are bridging the employment gap and creating strong networks of business leaders throughout the northeast region.”