Energy 2021: Positioning Ourselves for the Future

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In this episode of The Voices of Energy, Katie Mehnert moderates a KCA Houston Energy Breakfast on energy 2021. The KCA breakfast is a dedicated resource providing an informative outlook on the energy industry’s opportunities and challenges through the eyes of an accomplished senior level expert panel. This episode's panel is:

Katie Mehnert, CEO/Founder, ALLY by Pink Petro (moderator)
Regina Jones, Chief Legal Officer, Baker Hughes
Meghan Nutting, EVP Communications and Policy, Sunnova Energy
Dan Pickering, Chief Investment Officer of Pickering Energy Partners

Where is the focus in energy 2021? (10:06)

Dan explains there is no hotter topic than where the focus should be. His message is that the energy transition is real, but it is not an "either or" situation. As an investor he looks at what the supply and demand impact on traditional energy sources, like oil and gas as well as renewable energy like solar, and batteries. Conventional energy companies, he says, need to begin getting on board with ESG and implementing new practices for the future. Meghan explains that Texas is a leader in the energy transition, and believes Houston is the energy capital of the world. Texas companies account for more than a quarter of all corporate renewable energy deals signed around the world in 2020. Regina agrees, saying that Baker Hughes is looking at the energy transition as a global issue to drive and enable a shift toward renewable energy, while helping their clients reduce their carbon footprint as well.

What does the election mean for the energy transition? (20:00)

Dan explains that in a Biden administration, you would likely see a funded and supportive environment for renewable energy, with a tough regulatory environment for conventional energy. Dramatic change, he explains, will be harder with a split legislative branch. Stimulus will be good in the short term, and should be good for the market, but we need to keep in mind the amount of people that have lost their jobs. He believes it will be 2022 before we recover some of the demand, when oil and gas prices will get better.

How does equity shape energy? (28:17)

Regina explains that diversity and inclusion is the cost of doing business. It’s not enough for your workforce to be diverse, but your portfolios should be equitable and diverse as well. Meghan agrees that there is a long way to go in equity in the renewable energy workforce, but Sunnova is committed to diversity on all fronts.

Learning moments of 2020 (33:58)

This year has been a year of a lot of changes in ESG areas, Katie asks the team what their biggest learning has been in this unprecedented year. Dan says for him it’s been that people are incredibly resilient. Meghan says she’s realized the demand for solar energy is incredibly robust. You can’t stop consumer demand. For Regina, it’s also been resiliency and change, she’s learned you have to be prepared, adaptable and driving change at all times.

Transition to EV and the legal consequences of the energy transition (36:20)

Katie then takes listener questions, the first around the transition to low carbon transportation. Meghan explains that this shift is coming quicker than anticipated as states like California and New Jersey are looking at passing laws that help the shift to electric vehicles by 2035. Dan adds that the rest of the country may catch up to where California is with electric vehicles by 2055, and Regina agrees. Regina also tackles the question surrounding the legal consequences of the energy transition. While there will be legal ramifications, and hearings throughout the courts as policies and regulations change, she doesn’t foresee serious consequences.

A message to college grads (44:37)

The pandemic has encouraged a new generation of students to look toward energy jobs, and the panelists offer a message to them. Meghan highlights the growth the energy industry is on, and explains now is the time to find a career in energy. Regina echoes that sentiment, adding that now is the time energy will be changing the future. Dan cautions students to think carefully about choosing their spots, doing research on companies and their cultures. Regina and Dan agree that whatever industry you choose today will look different further down the line in your career, so you should be ready to adapt and change. There will be plenty of energy opportunities in 2021 as well, from jobs to investments to technology.

Download the full show notes here.

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