Carol Brzozowski 2016-09-20 13:18:15
“It’s a great time to be in the energy business,” notes Barry Worthington, executive director of the United States Energy Association (USEA). The association—which is a member of the World Energy Council—draws together public and private energy-related organizations, corporations, and government agencies representing the United States’ broad energy sector interests, domestically and globally. “The pace of change, in every aspect of the energy industry, is more rapid than at any time in the 40 years I’ve been working in this industry,” says Worthington, noting that dramatic changes in the coal, shale gas, and shale oil sectors, as well as wind and solar integration have occurred in a way “no one would have predicted a few years ago.” Worthington notes that while other countries over the years have progressed well in energy practices equal to that of the US, he lauds the US as the “most advanced in technology, deploying environmental technology, operational efficiency, safety, and security.” As for energy efficiency and security for business energy—especially in mission-critical structures—Worthington calls this an opportune time to deploy the most efficient heating and cooling systems possible, such as Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems, with gas prices and environmental benefits driving the benefits for adoption. Many New York City healthcare facilities have dramatically reduced utility costs through such measures, he adds. Through USEA’s annual energy forums, Worthington is cognizant that the return on investment (ROI) is a driving factor for businesses employing energy efficiencies. For example: in an Empire State Building energy refurbishment, owners identified and ranked dozens of energy efficiency options, executing the ones bringing in the best ROI. This resulted in dramatic energy efficiency improvements, Worthington says. What He Does Day to Day Worthington reports to the USEA’s board of directors and membership, which represents petroleum, natural gas, electric utilities, independent power developers, renewables, manufacturing, and engineering companies, among others. He spends time overseeing the association’s budgetary and personnel administrative functions. Worthington directs USEA domestic and international activities, including writing, global speaking engagements, and coordinating workshops. “I also have a lot of one-on-one discussions of a substantive nature relative to the variety of global energy issues,” he says. Worthington also serves on the National Energy Foundation and the Energy Law Foundation boards, and is an Electric Power Research Institute advisory board member. What Led Him to This Work Worthington originally sought an education degree, but developed an interest in energy issues during his college years, in response to the events of the 1970s: the Iranian Revolution, Arab oil embargos, and the advent of the environmental movement that solidified the relationship between energy and the environment. Worthington earned a B.S. degree in Man & Environmental Relations from Pennsylvania State University, where he customized a specialization in energy planning. He earned an M.S. in Studies of the Future Program from the University of Houston. He worked for the Houston Lighting & Power Company and was a vice president of the Thomas Alva Edison Foundation before taking on his current position in 1988. What He Likes Best About His Work USEA works with the US Agency for International Development on improving energy systems in developing countries. “You feel good knowing that, partly because of your contribution, people’s lives are being made better than they otherwise would be,” says Worthington. His Biggest Challenge Worthington says USEA’s challenge is an industry-wide one: achieving balance between maintaining reliable, affordable energy supplies, and addressing the societal need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “We’re expected to reduce our CO2 emissions 28 to 32% by 2025, and we’re more than halfway there. But, when you consider that we’re expected to reduce our emissions by 80% by 2050, it is unclear if that’s going to be achievable while still maintaining reliable and affordable energy supplies,” he says. Dramatic investments and political policy changes are required, Worthington adds. “The energy sector almost has to get to zero emissions from energy production, distribution, and consumption.” That means equipping every carbon-producing facility with carbon-capturing storage, constructing 100 new nuclear power plants in the next 35 years as current ones are retired, and deploying all of the wind, solar, and geothermal possible, he says. BE Carol Brzozowski specializes in topics related to technology and construction.
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