Energy, Water Supplies: We Better Take Them Seriously


When a lengthy information-gathering/discussion meeting ends with a lot of people nodding their heads and a few "ah-hah" moments, it has generally been a success.

An example is a recent Indiana Vision 2025 task force meeting dealing with energy and water issues. Sounds thrilling, right? But it was most informative and I’m confident the 15 or so business leaders present would agree. (2025, by the way, is the process of the Chamber looking beyond the short term and developing a long-range economic development plan for the state; you’ll hear more as the work continues over the course of the rest of the year).

Expert presenters on nuclear, wind, coal, energy policy and water issues presented a variety of interesting facts and future scenarios. I’ll only scratch the surface here. The task force will use the information and the importance of ensuring adequate, cost-efficent energy and water supplies in helping craft the state’s economic future.

A few numbers:

  • In the U.S, 104 nuclear reactors supply 20% of the nation’s electricity. Globally, 59 plants are under construction, 149 are planned in 28 countries and 344 additional ones are under consideration
  • Although no facilities are coming to Indiana any time soon, the state certainly has manufacturing opportunities to support the industry
  • "Demand sourcing" in the oil market refers to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates holding back oil capacity to help control fluctuations. (How successful is that strategy?)
  • The Energy Information Administration expects 45% of U.S. gas production by 2035 to come from shale gas — bringing a new set of questions about processes and reliability
  • Indiana now stands 11th in wind energy capacity. But despite 35% annual growth nationally over the last five years, wind accounts for just 2.3% of U.S. electricity
  • Jobs are also part of the wind picture. There are 400-plus manufacturing facilities for wind-related products, with Texas and Illinois leading the way in numbers employed in such positions
  • Indiana is one of only two states with more manufacturing workers than government workers. In Indiana, manufacturing accounts for 45% of all energy used
  • The average power plant in Indiana is 53 years old, the average worker in those plants is 52 and the average coal miner is 51
  • Indiana has pending water supply problems in the southern part of the state, an area that also shows a higher level of projected growth (if water and other resources are available)
  • Other states are utilizing regional systems to manage water supply, while local resources manage water demand and delivery 

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