August 29, 2012

Debate will focus on energy future

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A symposium next week in Carbondale will feature some of the state's leading energy experts who will examine the industry's future and possible impact on consumers.

"Energy Debate: Preparing for the Future … Now!" is from 6-8 p.m., Sept. 8, at the Town Square Pavilion in downtown Carbondale.  Energy industry and academic experts will debate issues surrounding fossil fuels and alternative energy; the origins of rising energy prices; and mechanisms and timetable for transition to sustainable energy.

The SIU Coal Extraction and Utilization Research Center at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, along with Carterville resident Dennis Pinigis, who is the debate moderator, are event sponsors.

The event is free.  The public may send questions prior to the debate to or submit them on an "Energy Debate" page on Facebook.  Seating will be available.  Details on an alternate location will be available on the website in the event of severe weather.  The audience and speakers can gather at Global Gourmet, 102 E. Jackson St., Carbondale, an hour before the debate and again after the event for additional conversation and networking opportunities.

"I believe the energy debate is important for the future of SIU and the region," said Tomasz Wiltowski, center director. "We need to start the conversation about the actions we can take now in order to face the energy challenges of the future.  The Coal Research Center hopes to serve as a hub for resources and programs to help our communities overcome their energy challenges."

Pinigis, the debate moderator, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, and has a master's degree in environmental engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  He is author of the 2010 book, "It's the Price of Oil, Stupid," which examines ways for energy to be at the "forefront of a plan to return our country to economic prosperity."

The panelists are: Phil Gonet, president of the Illinois Coal Association; Brad Richards, executive vice president with the Illinois Oil and Natural Gas Association; Rob Newbold, board director, Illinois Solar Association; Kevin Wright, president, Illinois Competitive Energy Association; and Sylvia Secchi, an assistant professor in agribusiness economics at SIU Carbondale.

More information on the debate and panel members is available at, or by calling Amy McMorrow Hunter, SIU Carbondale technology transfer specialist, at 618/453-4556.  In addition to the website and Facebook, updates will be available through SIU Research on Twitter via @siucresearch.