By Lisa Lee Morgan, Chair, E4 Carolinas Communications Task Force

And Chief Executive Officer, Calor Energy

Energy Policy – that’s right, with a capital P – was the topic Friday, August 26th, when the E4 Carolinas Energy Policy Task Force presented a morning gaggle of expert panels to the 100+ energy professionals from both Carolinas. The event was hosted by Piedmont Natural Gas. Jeff Merrifield of Pillsbury Law, a DC-inside-the-beltway law firm, moderated the Federal panel. US Congressman (R) Richard Hudson (NC-8), gave a keynote talk. There was a pithy discussion among North and South Carolina lawmakers on the State Energy Policy panel, moderated by Piedmont’s George Baldwin. The morning’s pre-prandial finale was a very practical talk among four state Public Utility Commission regulators, led by David Wright of Wright Directions, who has previously served in both state and federal energy regulatory positions. Merrifield, Baldwin and Wright are each current Directors of the E4 Carolinas Board and Co-chair the Energy Policy Task Force.

If you attended, you may have a different top 10 of valuable take-aways, but if you didn’t attend here is my top 10, starting with number 10!


Piedmont Natural Gas – Loved the PNG building, and Piedmont Row which is a sweet urban design. Kudos on architecture, restaurants, conference space, and even the parking!


Clarity and Candor – Appreciated the succinct explanations, by founding E4 Carolinas board member Jeff Merrifield, of various energy bills currently making way through Congress. Frank evaluation of probabilities given the potential election results.


Bipartisanship – Who knew there was any bipartisanship in Washington? Senate Bill S2012, a comprehensive energy reform bill, is co-sponsored by two smart women: Sen Lisa Murkowski (R) AR and Sen Elizabeth Warren (D) MA. It may have a chance.


Personal Connections – Giddyup Mustangs! US Representative Richard Hudson (R) NC is a grad of my own high school alma mater, Myers Park High, right here in the Queen City of Charlotte! And even though his policies support fossil fuel deployment, that didn’t stop him from giving a shout out to fellow MPHS classmate Joel Olee Olsen, the solar farm entrepreneur behind O2 Energies, also in the audience, and an active member of E4 Carolinas.


Opinions – We all have them and they shape what we think and do. US Rep Hudson does not acknowledge climate change and declared that there is “no science behind” the EPA ozone rules. Hudson aligns his action with his thinking, sharing that, “I work hard to be a roadblock.”

Gray Suit Policy Briefing 


Dressed for Success – Much admired the stunning matched-set of gray-suited state legislators that comprised the NC + SC State Policy Panel (see the photo above). I chuckled as I imagined one of these state lawmakers dressed as a hipster in tight black jeans, a porkpie hat, and boots. Maybe one of these days!


Diversity – Visualize that bumper sticker COEXIST, suggested Paul Newton, a candidate for NC State Senate. Then he asked the question, “Where do we- and should we- stand on the spectrum between unrestricted growth and environmental stewardship? Here is my question: Must growth and environment be a zero-sum game?” Newton called for diverse energy options to coexist, as in “All of the Above” policies.


The Whole Truth – Appreciated practical truth-telling by Mike Hager, retiring as NC State Representative (R) from Rutherford County after 6 years. Hager called for “transparency” at the “interface of the free market and regulators.” He confirmed that for state power generation “a diverse portfolio is critical.” And he affirmed that “We DO need to reduce pollution.”


It’s All Connected – Inspired by the leadership of South Carolinas Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Heigel. She and David Wright discussed the important intersection of clean water and energy policy, reminding us of “the strong link between health and environment.” North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Secretary Don van der Vaart, noted “We are kidding ourselves if we think we can have an effective environmental program without a robust economy, and vice versa. It is Important to use some of our money to protect the environment, because no industry wants to move to a state with dirty air or water.”


Get in the Game! – My number one favorite moment of the day came when Catherine Heigel, SC DHEC Director, was asked to pile onto the categorical objections to the Clean Power Plan, and responded “If you are not AT the table, you are ON the table. I believe in collaboration with Feds, rather than stonewalling.” What a breath of fresh air! (no pun intended)