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thumb Tuttle_Clifford_ForbesEngineering students at Tennessee Tech University are starting a conversation on the national energy policy with a presentation and community discussion on Thursday, April 26.

Glenn Cunningham, TTU professor of mechanical engineering, gave senior engineering students the task of taking the 2001 report of the National Energy Policy Development Group and revising it for 2012. They are dissecting the 2001 policy and either agreeing with or making recommendations for the points of action in the plan.

“The time has long passed when this country could ‘fly blind’ in relation to our national energy policy,” said Cunningham. “With the worldwide competitive economic system now in place, American manufacturers must have the best possible energy costs in order to compete successfully in global markets.”

The students are updating decades-old data and acknowledging the challenges and opportunities that have emerged since 2001, including the Keystone Pipeline, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and California’s energy crisis, as well as the increase in energy costs. In 2001, when the NEPDG issued its recommendations, gasoline was $1.80 per gallon.

“Energy often represents the largest manageable cost to industrial firms,” said Cunningham. “As a nation we must quickly develop and implement a comprehensive national energy policy to support economic growth and safeguard the environment.”

In more than three months of work, the TTU students have assessed several aspects of the energy issue, including energy costs and the financial impacts on families and businesses; Environmental Protection Agency regulations; increasing domestic energy supplies, from natural to nuclear; electricity consumption; infrastructure; and incentives for individuals and corporations.

Cunningham told the students they also would have to consider the effects of carbon dioxide emissions, changes in the coal industry, advances in nuclear energy and new technologies in natural energy sources, including solar and wind.
The findings are intended to spark a timely discussion as individuals, corporations and leaders across the county debate energy independence, consumption and costs.

The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Derryberry Hall. It is open to the public.